The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

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Following the enormous critical — Best Books of '98 in Publishers Weekly, San Francisco Chronicle, Denver Post, and others — and commercial success of Bag of Bones, Stephen King's bestselling hardcover novel to date (over 1.6 million shipped), comes a short novel with as much punch as a pinch-hit homerun.

On a six-mile hike on the Maine-New Hampshire branch of the Appalachian Trail, nine-year-old Trisha McFarland quickly tires of the constant bickering between her older brother,...

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The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon: A Novel

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Overview

Following the enormous critical — Best Books of '98 in Publishers Weekly, San Francisco Chronicle, Denver Post, and others — and commercial success of Bag of Bones, Stephen King's bestselling hardcover novel to date (over 1.6 million shipped), comes a short novel with as much punch as a pinch-hit homerun.

On a six-mile hike on the Maine-New Hampshire branch of the Appalachian Trail, nine-year-old Trisha McFarland quickly tires of the constant bickering between her older brother, Pete, and her recently divorced mother. But when she wanders off by herself, and then tries to catch up by attempting a shortcut, she becomes lost in a wilderness maze full of peril and terror.

As night falls, Trisha has only her ingenuity as a defense against the elements, and only her courage and faith to withstand her mounting fears. For solace she tunes her Walkman to broadcast of Boston Red Sox baseball games and follows the gritty performances of her hero, relief pitcher Tom Gordon. And when her radio's reception begins to fade, Trisha imagines that Tom Gordon is with her--protecting her from an all-to-real enemy who has left a trail of slaughtered animals and mangled trees in the dense, dark woods...

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Stephen King has, in many ways, created the horror genre and claimed the largest stake in it for himself. Lest you believe this is selfishness, I'll assure you: It's through no fault of his own. The guy is just too talented, and in many ways, his fiction has defined popular literature — and culture — for the past 20 years. His novels have been markers along the climb to the 21st century, from Carrie and its "High School Confidential" horrors through The Shining with its nuclear-family nightmare, into his instant classics like Misery and the recent Bag of Bones. His serial novel, The Green Mile, was one of the most absorbing books of the past few years.

Returning to the short form — almost as an intermediate step between Bag of Bones and his next huge novel — King has offered up The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.

First, this is not your typical horror novel — I'd hazard a guess that King himself doesn't see it as a horror story. It has more in common with the fiction of Jack London and Stephen Crane than it does with the fiction of Poe or Stoker. But, of course, London and Crane both wrote about a kind of horror that didn't involve creatures from another planet or from graves. They wrote about the horror of humans, nature, and the ability of human beings to survive against the shadows of "what's out there."

No recounting of the plot will convey what King manages to create in this short novel. A girl of nine accompanies her mother and brother on a brief trip, hiking a small portion of the Appalachian Trail. The girl, Trisha, wanders off the path and manages to get lost. She has some family issues: Mom and Dad have divorced, and her brother is constantly squabbling. But by removing Trisha from the family, by isolating her into the woods, the novel becomes one of human survival.

What begins as a bit of a simple tale — little girl lost — soon turns to the larger questions of what is at the center of creation, what motivates any of us, and the place where darkness and human imagination cross. I resisted this story to some extent, for King is wily. He begins with a soft lull, a bit of a dramatic moment that gets lost quickly in the sweet worry of a young girl who is resourceful enough to pick berries for survival and to do all the right — but ultimately wrong — things in order to find her way back to civilization. But soon, nature itself becomes a force, more often for ill than for good. And as Trisha's imagination begins to re-create the dark forest around her, a slow, sure terror mounts.

This is not a shocker, and no one will stay up till dawn having nightmares over Trisha and the darkness she must face. But The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is a major step forward for King into the realm of fiction that matters, fiction that is about what humans face as one century turns to another: the meaning at the center of existence.

And it's a fun book, too. Let's not forget that beyond being a terrific writer, King is one of the most entertaining storytellers on the planet. His passion for baseball comes through, as does his love for children and the terrors they must face. Get this book. Stay with it. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is the nightmare at the heart of existence; it is the story of those of us who get lost and must face our worst fears.

—Douglas Clegg
Douglas Clegg is the author of numerous horror novels, including Halloween Man and Bad Karma, written under his pseudonym, Andrew Harper. His recent Bram Stoker-nominated short story, "I Am Infinite, I Contain Multitudes," can be found in the anthology The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Volume 11. The world's first e-serial novel, Naomi, will be coming out in May; his next book, The Nightmare Chronicles, will be out in the fall.

USA Today
A delightful read, a literary walk in the woods...[T]he novel is less about baseball than about faith, perseverance and survival.
Christopher Lehmann-Haupt
...[R]eading the novel produces...satisfying moments of feverish terror....As the narrator puts it: "The world had teeth and it could bite you with them anytime it wanted. She knew that now. She was only 9, but she knew it, and she thought she could accept it"....Thanks to Mr. King's gruesome imagination, you as a reader feel the sharpness of those teeth.
The New York Times
Wall Street Journal
Stephen King at his best...a wonderful story of courage, faith and hope...eminently engaging and difficult to put down.
New York Daily News
Stephen King's new novel expertly stirs the major ingredients of the American psyche — our spirituality, fierce love of children, passion for baseball and collective fear of the bad thing we know lurks on the periphery of life.
People Magazine
You may not care about Gordonbut you will about Trisha.
VOYA - Jennifer Hubert
Most of us can remember being lost at least once or twice in our lives. No one ever forgets the sickening feeling that rises from the pit of your stomach when you realize you have wandered off the path. One sunny morning in June, nine-year-old Trisha McFarland falls victim to that feeling when she loses her family on a hiking trail in the Maine woods. With only a sack lunch and her Walkman, Trisha wanders in the forest for nine days in search of the elusive trail. During that time she experiences sickness, injury, and frightening nighttime hallucinations of a lurking beast that may or may not be real. Her only comfort is the tinny sportscast emanating from her Walkman that describes the exploits of her baseball hero, Red Sox relief pitcher Tom Gordon. When Trisha finally confronts her fear, which in typical King style has morphed into a huge bear, she does so by winding up and pitching her Walkman right into the bear's face, just like Tom Gordon. The beast is exorcised, and Trisha is finally rescued by a friendly out-of-season hunter. Few writers can revisit the fears of childhood as well as King, and for most teens these terrors of years so recently lived are especially vivid. While Trisha is younger than some of the teen characters in earlier works, like Christine (Viking, 1984) or Carrie (Doubleday, 1974), the legions of young adult King fans who eagerly await the publication of each new novel will not particularly notice or care. VOYA Codes: 4Q 5P J S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult).
ALAN Review
Here's a fascinating survival story for younger readers. Nine-year-old Trisha McFarland becomes separated from her mother and older teenage brother while hiking along the Appalachian Trail in Maine. Armed with only her lunch, her rain poncho and her Walkman, Trisha wanders throughout the woods, following streams, sinking in swamps, fighting bugs, and scavenging for survival. A devout Boston Red Sox fan, Trisha tunes into games on her Walkman, following especially the movements of her hero, relief pitcher Tom Gordon. Desperate, she hallucinates that Tom Gordon is beside her, talking to her and keeping her alive. If any author can convince readers that a nine-year-old can survive nine days in the wilderness, Stephen King can. Readers will root for Trisha while she cheers on her favorite ball player. This novel is fast-paced and easy to read. Trisha is a brave, strong, spirited young girl whose passionate belief in the world's goodness helps her survive. Genre: Survival Fiction. 1999, Scribner, Ages 14 up, $16.95. Reviewer: Lisa K. Winkler
Library Journal
While hiking a six-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail with her mother and brother, nine-year-old Trisha McFarland steps off the path to relieve herself and then attempts a shortcut to catch up. With this unfortunate decision, she becomes lost and alone in the Maine woods for over a week, with limited food and water and what becomes her prize possession, a personal stereo. Trisha uses the radio to follow the play of her beloved Tom Gordon, relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox--a calming link to the civilized world and one she uses to gather courage and strength for her ordeal. In a near-perfect characterization on King's part, we experience Trisha's fears, hopes, pains, hallucinations, and triumphs through her internal monolog, which is animated in this program by the voice of actress Anne Heche. She flawlessly conveys Trisha's youth and the spectrum of her emotional states. Recommended without reservation.--Kristen L. Smith, Loras Coll. Lib., Dubuque, IA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
YA-Tired of the continual bickering between her mother and her older brother, nine-year-old Trisha lags behind them on the Appalachian Trail, leaves the path to go to the bathroom, takes a shortcut, and is promptly lost. She follows a stream searching for other people or a road, but unknowingly hikes further and further away from civilization. Her time alone is spent searching for food, mulling over her parents' divorce, and listening to Red Sox games on her Walkman radio. Relief pitcher for the Sox, Tom Gordon, becomes her imaginary companion and provides the comfort she needs to overcome her fears and loneliness so that she can concentrate on staying alive. One feels Trisha's terror as she endures drenching thunderstorms, tromps through mud-sucking swamps, sees gutted deer carcasses, and falls down rocky slopes. Will she survive? Readers aren't sure and the tension builds as hunger and weakness wear her down. Excitement, fear, and anxiety, coupled with vivid descriptions of the Maine-New Hampshire forests alongside the normalcy of listening to play-by-play baseball games, add up to a top-notch read.-Pam Spencer, Young Adult Literature Specialist, Virginia Beach, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Masterful...Trisha is a tough little kid, but is she any match for the monsters of our imagination? Who among us hasn't wandered through the wild without that eerie feeling that someone is watching....King uses that creepy-crawly paranoia to perfection.
Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
...[F]inds its fright factor not in the supernatural but in the demons within....[King is] at his best when he keeps the creepy elements to a minimum and concentrates on his girl-against-nature tale....[The book] isn't going to keep die-hard horror fans up at night, but adventure addicts will find plenty of thrills.
Entertainment Weekly
NY Times Book Review
...[T]he idea of "closing" as a metaphor for conquering demons is a deft addition to King's crowded field.
Charles DeLint
...[S]tands right up there with the best work that King's produced, and that's very fine work indeed.
Fantasy & Science Fiction
From the Publisher
The New York Times Frightening....Feverish terror.

San Francisco Examiner A gem....Superb.

People An absorbing tale...Tom Gordon scores big.

USA Today A delightful read, a literary walk in the woods, and not just for baseball fans.

The Wall Street Journal Impressive...A wonderful story of courage, faith, and hope. It is eminently engaging and difficult to put down.

New York Daily News A fast, scary read...King blasts a homer...[He] expertly stirs the major ingredients of the American psyche — our spirituality, fierce love of children, passion for baseball, and collective fear of the bad thing we know lurks on the periphery of life.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch King paints a masterful, terrifying picture of every child's (and maybe adult's) worst fear...King uses that creepy-crawly paranoia to perfection.

Entertainment Weekly Plenty of thrills...[King's] an elegant writer and a master of pacing.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416524298
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 11/28/2005
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 4.22 (w) x 6.82 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes Doctor Sleep and Under the Dome, now a major TV miniseries on CBS. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Richard Bachman
      Stephen A. King
      Stephen Edwin King
    2. Hometown:
      Bangor, Maine
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 21, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Portland, Maine
    1. Education:
      B.S., University of Maine at Orono, 1970
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

First Inning

Mom and Pete gave it a rest as they got their packs and Quilla's wicker plant-collection basket out of the van's back end; Pete even helped Trisha get her pack settled evenly on her back, tightening one of the straps, and she had a moment's foolish hope that now things were going to be all right.

"Kids got your ponchos?" Mom asked, looking up at the sky. There was still blue up there, but the clouds were thickening in the west. It very likely would rain, but probably not soon enough for Pete to have a satisfying whine about being soaked.

"I've got mine, Mom!" Trisha chirruped in her oh-boy-waterless-cookware voice.

Pete grunted something that might have been yes.

"Lunches?"

Affirmative from Trisha; another low grunt from Pete.

"Good, because I'm not sharing mine." She locked the Caravan, then led them across the dirt lot toward a sign marked TRAIL WEST, with an arrow beneath. There were maybe a dozen other cars in the lot, all but theirs with out-of-state plates.

"Bug-spray?" Mom asked as they stepped onto the path leading to the trail. "Trish?"

"Got it!" she chirruped, not entirely positive she did but not wanting to stop with her back turned so that Mom could have a rummage. That would get Pete going again for sure. If they kept walking, though, he might see something which would interest him, or at least distract him. A raccoon. Maybe a deer. A dinosaur would be good. Trisha giggled.

"What's funny?" Mom asked.

"Just me thinks," Trisha replied, and Quilla frowned — "me thinks" was a Larry McFarland-ism. Well let her frown, Trisha thought. Let her frown all she wants, I'm with her, and I don't complain about it like old grouchy there, but he's still my Dad and I still love him.

Trisha touched the brim of her signed cap, as if to prove it.

"Okay, kids, let's go," Quilla said. "And keep your eyes open."

"I hate this," Pete almost groaned — it was the first clearly articulated thing he'd said since they got out of the van, and Trisha thought: Please God, send something. A deer or a dinosaur or a UFO. Because if you don't, they're going right back at it.

God sent nothing but a few mosquito scouts that would no doubt soon be reporting back to the main army that fresh meat was on the move, and by the time they passed a sign reading NO. CONWAY STATION 5.5 MI., the two of them were at it full-bore again, ignoring the woods, ignoring her, ignoring everything but each other. Yatata-yatata-yatata. It was, Trisha thought, like some sick kind of making out.

It was a shame, too, because they were missing stuff that was actually pretty neat. The sweet, resiny smell of the pines, for instance, and the way the clouds seemed so close — less like clouds than like draggles of whitish-gray smoke. She guessed you'd have to be an adult to call something as boring as walking one of your hobbies, but this really wasn't bad. She didn't know if the entire Appalachian Trail was as well-maintained as this — probably not — but if it was, she guessed she could understand why people with nothing better to do decided to walk all umpty-thousand miles of it. Trisha thought it was like walking on a broad, winding avenue through the woods. It wasn't paved, of course, and it ran steadily uphill, but it was easy enough walking. There was even a little hut with a pump inside it and a sign which read: WATER TESTS OK FOR DRINKING. PLEASE FILL PRIMER JUG FOR NEXT PERSON.

She had a bottle of water in her pack — a big one with a squeeze-top — but suddenly all Trisha wanted in the world was to prime the pump in the little hut and get a drink, cold and fresh, from its rusty lip. She would drink and pretend she was Bilbo Baggins, on his way to the Misty Mountains.

"Mom?" she asked from behind them. "Could we stop long enough to — "

"Making friends is a job, Peter," her mother was saying. She didn't look back at Trisha. "You can't just stand around and wait for kids to come to you."

"Mom? Pete? Could we Please stop for just a — "

"You don't understand," he said heatedly. "You don't have a clue. I don't know how things were when you were in junior high, but they're a lot different now."

"Pete? Mom? Mommy? There's a pump — " Actually there was a pump; that was now the grammatically correct way to put it, because the pump was behind them, and getting farther behind all the time.

"I don't accept that," Mom said briskly, all business, and Trisha thought: No wonder she drives him crazy. Then, resentfully: They don't even know I'm here, The Invisible Girl, that's me. I might as well have stayed home. A mosquito whined in her ear and she slapped at it irritably.

They came to a fork in the trail. The main branch — not quite as wide as an avenue now, but still not bad — went off to the left, marked by a sign reading NO. CONWAY 5.2. The other branch, smaller and mostly overgrown, read KEZAR NOTCH 10.

"Guys, I have to pee," said The Invisible Girl, and of course neither of them took any notice; they just headed up the branch which led to North Conway, walking side by side like lovers and looking into each other's faces like lovers and arguing like the bitterest enemies. We should have stayed home, Trisha thought. They could have done this at home, and I could have read a book. The Hobbit again, maybe — a story about guys who like to walk in the woods.

"Who cares, I'm peeing," she said sulkily, and walked a little way down the path marked KEZAR NOTCH. Here the pines which had stayed modestly back from the main trail crowded in, reaching with their blueblack branches, and there was underbrush, as well — clogs and clogs of it. She looked for the shiny leaves that meant poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac, and didn't see any...thank God for small favors. Her mother had shown her pictures of those and taught her to identify them two years ago, when life had been happier and simpler. In those days Trisha had gone tramping in the woods with her mother quite a bit. (Pete's bitterest complaint about the trip to Plant-A-Torium was that their mother had wanted to go there. The obvious truth of this seemed to blind him to how selfish he had sounded, harping on it all day long.)

On one of their walks, Mom had also taught her how girls peed in the woods. She began by saying, "The most important thing — maybe the only important thing — is not to do it in a patch of poison ivy. Now look. Watch me and do it just the way I do it."

Trisha now looked both ways, saw no one, and decided she'd get off the trail anyway. The way to Kezar Notch looked hardly used — little more than an alley compared to the broad thoroughfare of the main trail — but she still didn't want to squat right in the middle of it. It seemed indecorous.

She stepped off the path in the direction of the North Conway fork, and she could still hear them arguing. Later on, after she was good and lost and trying not to believe she might die in the woods, Trisha would remember the last phrase she got in the clear; her brother's hurt, indignant voice: — don't know why we have to pay for what you guys did wrong!

She walked half a dozen steps toward the sound of his voice, stepping carefully around a clump of brambles even though she was wearing jeans instead of shorts. She paused, looked back, and realized she could still see the Kezar Notch path...which meant that anyone coming along it would be able to see her, squatting and peeing with a half-loaded knapsack on her back and a Red Sox cap on her head. Em-bare-ASS-ing, as Pepsi might say (Quilla Andersen had once remarked that Penelope Robichaud's picture should be next to the word vulgar in the dictionary).

Trisha went down a mild slope, her sneakers slipping a little in a carpet of last year's dead leaves, and when she got to the bottom she couldn't see the Kezar Notch path anymore. Good. From the other direction, straight ahead through the woods, she heard a man's voice and a girl's answering laughter — hikers on the main trail, and not far away, by the sound. As Trisha unsnapped her jeans it occurred to her that if her mother and brother paused in their oh-so-interesting argument, looking behind them to see how sis was doing, and saw a strange man and woman instead, they might be worried about her.

Good! Give them something else to think about for a few minutes. Something besides themselves.

The trick, her mother had told her on that better day in the woods two years ago, wasn't going outdoors — girls could do that every bit as well as boys — but to do it without soaking your clothes.

Trisha held onto the conveniently jutting branch of a nearby pine, bent her knees, then reached between her legs with her free hand, yanking her pants and her underwear forward and out of the firing line. For a moment nothing happened — wasn't that just typical — and Trish sighed. A mosquito whined bloodthirstily around her left ear, and she had no hand free with which to slap at it.

"Oh waterless cookware!" she said angrily, but it was funny, really quite deliciously stupid and funny, and she began to laugh. As soon as she started laughing she started peeing. When she was done she looked around dubiously for something to blot with and decided — once more it was her father's phrase — not to push her luck. She gave her tail a little shake (as if that would really do any good) and then yanked up her pants. When the mosquito buzzed the side of her face again, she slapped it briskly and looked with satisfaction at the small bloody smear in the cup of her palm. "Thought I was unloaded, partner, didn't you?" she said.

Trisha turned back toward the slope, and then turned around again as the worst idea of her life came to her. This idea was to go forward instead of backtracking to the Kezar Notch trail. The paths had forked in a Y; she would simply walk across the gap and rejoin the main trail. Piece of cake. There was no chance of getting lost, because she could hear the voices of the other hikers so clearly. There was really no chance of getting lost at all.

Copyright © 1999 by Stephen King

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First Chapter

First Inning

Mom and Pete gave it a rest as they got their packs and Quilla's wicker plant-collection basket out of the van's back end; Pete even helped Trisha get her pack settled evenly on her back, tightening one of the straps, and she had a moment's foolish hope that now things were going to be all right.

"Kids got your ponchos?" Mom asked, looking up at the sky. There was still blue up there, but the clouds were thickening in the west. It very likely would rain, but probably not soon enough for Pete to have a satisfying whine about being soaked.

"I've got mine, Mom!" Trisha chirruped in her oh-boy-waterless-cookware voice.

Pete grunted something that might have been yes.

"Lunches?"

Affirmative from Trisha; another low grunt from Pete.

"Good, because I'm not sharing mine." She locked the Caravan, then led them across the dirt lot toward a sign marked TRAIL WEST, with an arrow beneath. There were maybe a dozen other cars in the lot, all but theirs with out-of-state plates.

"Bug-spray?" Mom asked as they stepped onto the path leading to the trail. "Trish?"

"Got it!" she chirruped, not entirely positive she did but not wanting to stop with her back turned so that Mom could have a rummage. That would get Pete going again for sure. If they kept walking, though, he might see something which would interest him, or at least distract him. A raccoon. Maybe a deer. A dinosaur would be good. Trisha giggled.

"What's funny?" Mom asked.

"Just me thinks," Trisha replied, and Quilla frowned -- "me thinks" was a Larry McFarland-ism. Well let her frown, Trisha thought. Let her frown all she wants, I'm with her, and I don't complain about it liNKING. PLEASE FILL PRIMER JUG FOR NEXT PERSON.

She had a bottle of water in her pack -- a big one with a squeeze-top -- but suddenly all Trisha wanted in the world was to prime the pump in the little hut and get a drink, cold and fresh, from its rusty lip. She would drink and pretend she was Bilbo Baggins, on his way to the Misty Mountains.

"Mom?" she asked from behind them. "Could we stop long enough to -- "

"Making friends is a job, Peter," her mother was saying. She didn't look back at Trisha. "You can't just stand around and wait for kids to come to you."

"Mom? Pete? Could we Please stop for just a -- "

"You don't understand," he said heatedly. "You don't have a clue. I don't know how things were when you were in junior high, but they're a lot different now."

"Pete? Mom? Mommy? There's a pump -- " Actually there was a pump; that was now the grammatically correct way to put it, because the pump was behind them, and getting farther behind all the time.

"I don't accept that," Mom said briskly, all business, and Trisha thought: No wonder she drives him crazy. Then, resentfully: They don't even know I'm here, The Invisible Girl, that's me. I might as well have stayed home. A mosquito whined in her ear and she slapped at it irritably.

They came to a fork in the trail. The main branch -- not quite as wide as an avenue now, but still not bad -- went off to the left, marked by a sign reading NO. CONWAY 5.2. The other branch, smaller and mostly overgrown, read KEZAR NOTCH 10.

"Guys, I have to pee," said The Invisible Girl, and of course neither of them took any notice; they just headed up the branch which led to North Conway, walking side by side like l overs and looking into each other's faces like lovers and arguing like the bitterest enemies. We should have stayed home, Trisha thought. They could have done this at home, and I could have read a book. The Hobbit again, maybe -- a story about guys who like to walk in the woods.

"Who cares, I'm peeing," she said sulkily, and walked a little way down the path marked KEZAR NOTCH. Here the pines which had stayed modestly back from the main trail crowded in, reaching with their blueblack branches, and there was underbrush, as well -- clogs and clogs of it. She looked for the shiny leaves that meant poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac, and didn't see any...thank God for small favors. Her mother had shown her pictures of those and taught her to identify them two years ago, when life had been happier and simpler. In those days Trisha had gone tramping in the woods with her mother quite a bit. (Pete's bitterest complaint about the trip to Plant-A-Torium was that their mother had wanted to go there. The obvious truth of this seemed to blind him to how selfish he had sounded, harping on it all day long.)

On one of their walks, Mom had also taught her how girls peed in the woods. She began by saying, "The most important thing -- maybe the only important thing -- is not to do it in a patch of poison ivy. Now look. Watch me and do it just the way I do it."

Trisha now looked both ways, saw no one, and decided she'd get off the trail anyway. The way to Kezar Notch looked hardly used -- little more than an alley compared to the broad thoroughfare of the main trail -- but she still didn't want to squat right in the middle of it. It seemed indecorous.

She stepped off the path in the direction of the North Conway fork, and she could still hear them arguing. Later on, after she was good and lost and trying not to believe she might die in the woods, Trisha would remember the last phrase she got in the clear; her brother's hurt, indignant voice: -- don't know why we have to pay for what you guys did wrong!

She walked half a dozen steps toward the sound of his voice, stepping carefully around a clump of brambles even though she was wearing jeans instead of shorts. She paused, looked back, and realized she could still see the Kezar Notch path...which meant that anyone coming along it would be able to see her, squatting and peeing with a half-loaded knapsack on her back and a Red Sox cap on her head. Em-bare-ASS-ing, as Pepsi might say (Quilla Andersen had once remarked that Penelope Robichaud's picture should be next to the word vulgar in the dictionary).

Trisha went down a mild slope, her sneakers slipping a little in a carpet of last year's dead leaves, and when she got to the bottom she couldn't see the Kezar Notch path anymore. Good. From the other direction, straight ahead through the woods, she heard a man's voice and a girl's answering laughter -- hikers on the main trail, and not far away, by the sound. As Trisha unsnapped her jeans it occurred to her that if her mother and brother paused in their oh-so-interesting argument, looking behind them to see how sis was doing, and saw a strange man and woman instead, they might be worried about her.

Good! Give them something else to think about for a few minutes. Something besides themselves.

The trick, her mother had told her on that better day in the woods two years ag o, wasn't going outdoors -- girls could do that every bit as well as boys -- but to do it without soaking your clothes.

Trisha held onto the conveniently jutting branch of a nearby pine, bent her knees, then reached between her legs with her free hand, yanking her pants and her underwear forward and out of the firing line. For a moment nothing happened -- wasn't that just typical -- and Trish sighed. A mosquito whined bloodthirstily around her left ear, and she had no hand free with which to slap at it.

"Oh waterless cookware!" she said angrily, but it was funny, really quite deliciously stupid and funny, and she began to laugh. As soon as she started laughing she started peeing. When she was done she looked around dubiously for something to blot with and decided -- once more it was her father's phrase -- not to push her luck. She gave her tail a little shake (as if that would really do any good) and then yanked up her pants. When the mosquito buzzed the side of her face again, she slapped it briskly and looked with satisfaction at the small bloody smear in the cup of her palm. "Thought I was unloaded, partner, didn't you?" she said.

Trisha turned back toward the slope, and then turned around again as the worst idea of her life came to her. This idea was to go forward instead of backtracking to the Kezar Notch trail. The paths had forked in a Y; she would simply walk across the gap and rejoin the main trail. Piece of cake. There was no chance of getting lost, because she could hear the voices of the other hikers so clearly. There was really no chance of getting lost at all.

Copyright © 1999 by Stephen King

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 389 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon

    The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon
    By Stephen King

    This is a very suspenseful novel. It is written with great detail, and is very well thought out. It is about a nine year old girl named Trisha McFarland, who disappears off of a trail with her mother and brother in the Appalachian Mountains. Her family always argues with each other and pays little attention to her. She thinks of herself as the invisible child. While they are spending their time bickering with each other, Trisha tells them that she needs to use the restroom and is going to take the other path, and catch up to them when she is done. They do not hear her of course. She goes too far into the over grown path and looses her way.
    Trisha loves sports and she idolizes Tom Gordon, a famous Red Socks player. He is her hero, because listening to the baseball games on her walkman, while being lost in the woods gives her hope for survival. A search party goes out looking for Trisha, and she knows because she had heard it on the news station of the walkman. A helicopter flies over her, but does not see her, and she is left alone in the woods.
    Trisha has to find out how to survive on her own, with the little supplies she has in her backpack. She eats all of her food and drinks all that she has, and the water form a stream that she has walked miles to makes her sick. She makes her way into a crescent shaped clearing, and gets the feeling that she is not alone.
    She later finds out that "the thing in the woods" has been following her the entire time. It is a spirit and a misshaped monster that has stopped her from eating by placing dead animals by all food sources, and clawed and knocked down trees. It looks like a human with no eyes, and wasps covering every inch of it, and completely terrifies her. Trisha tries to convince her self it was a dream. But it is not. Overall, I would say that it is an exciting book, with a great plot. Also, the characters and setting make the story come to life and feel as if you are part of it.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The first time that I have been disappointed in a King novel

    I am a huge Stephen King fan, and have loved every book of his that I have read. And i was very excited to read The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, as I have heard that it was one of his best works, but I has hugely disappointed. As I was reading I kept on waiting for the book to get better or the scary part to happen, and it never did. Don't get me wrong the book is very well written and it has it moments, but they a far and few in between. Please read this book because I am sure that a lot of people will disagree with my opinion, and you may to, and I do not want to ruin a book for anybody.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2008

    No Chemistry, No Pazazz

    In this book, Trisha MacFarland gets lost in the woods while camping with her mom and brother. She must now survive in the woods with her packed lunch and a radio. This is an extreme disappointment! The adventure of Trisha getting lost in the woods is like watching the adventures of an ordinary pinecone. The character chemistry was also awful, since her mother just forgets about finding her daughter after she believes her daughter was murdered. It just stood as a disappointing adventure book.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 1999

    Exciting, gripping and very real

    I loved this story ,, it was so real ,, I was in the stand cheering this little girl on to victory ,, I stepped in the mud with her when she felt defeated ,, I could see all of this so clearly and to think that one little girl's hero could get her through it all, she could teach us all about being tough ,, a must read for all ,, I hope there are going to be more short creative stories like this to come ,, Stephen King is such a good storyteller

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2013

    Meh

    I just finished The Hobbit, and I liked the part where she mentioned Bilbo
    Other than that I'm not very far into it and don't like very much. So far, el verdict iz:
    BBBBOOOOOORRRIINNNNNGGG
    Sincerely,
    Omy

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The fear of the unknown, inner strength, courage and hope are what lies at the core of this scary story.

    Trisha McFarland is a nine year old who is going hiking with her mom and older brother. As the hike begins, the mom and teenage brother are busy arguing once again and Trisha who is walking behind them, decides to veer off and use the bathroom in the woods. She figures she won't be missed and she even hopes that her mom and brother might look back and be scared once they realize she's gone, since they've been paying her no mind. Once she's done using the bathroom, Trisha decides to take a shortcut through the woods, instead of going back to the trail. Within minutes, she's completely lost. Her brother and mom still haven't even realized she's not walking behind them anymore. Days roll into nights and the deeper she walks into the woods, the worse it is for her. Soon enough, Trisha realizes she is not alone, something is following her. She can't see it, but she knows it's there. This 'something' is leaving dead animal carcasses and claw marks on trees. Trisha's poor sense of direction continues to lead her further and further into the deep woods. Do you know what amazes me most about this book? The fact that Stephen King can write a story about a nine year old girl being lost in the woods and turn it into a tense, creepy, page turner. I decided to re-read The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon one weekend and it was a nice dose of horror. Characterization is wonderful here as per King's usual. Trisha's parents are divorced, while in the woods she has flashbacks of her mom and dad. She wonders how she could have been sitting in her car one minute, and lost in the woods the next. You can't help but root for her and be scared for her too. King doesn't miss a beat though, Trisha hallucinates at times as the exhaustion and stress take their toll on her. As I read I could easily envision the dense woods, the sounds of birds, the fear Trisha felt. You don't really know what is following Trisha, whether it's a bear or a monster. King does a fantastic job at making you scared of something that hasn't even shown itself yet. It's simply the thought of that monster in the woods that is really scary. I recommend The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon to all King fans or to anyone looking for a quick dose of horror. This one is mild compared to his other works, so if you are new to this author and are looking to read one of his books that isn't too scary, I think this is a good choice. The fear of the unknown, inner strength, courage and hope are what lies at the core of this scary story. King delivers here and I'm glad I re-read this one. King has a knack for creating young characters that the reader can root for and care about.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    chilling but great girl hero

    This would be a good gift book for a teen/pre-teen girl. It is scary but not terrifying, and very empowering. I recommend this highly.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Not the typical King book but still damn good!

    The flesh eating zombie never showed up but this book pleasantly suprised me. Trisha, the nine-year old main character is strong, funny, and believeable in an insane situation. King shows both his love for New England and the Red Sox but knowledge of either of those things aren't needed to enjoy this suspenseful tale.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2008

    Disappointing but still okay

    This was the second Stephen King book I've read, the first being Salem's Lot. I loved Salem's Lot, it was a great book and was also very scary. I was expecting the same from this book and I was very disappointed. It gets off to a pretty slow start, it's an average survival story until about 1/3 of the way through. Then it changes into an average survival story where the character knows she's being watched by something. This continues until there is about 50 pages left and then the story finally develops and the creature following her finally makes a significant appearance. This book was not scary in the slightest which is fine (although not expected from a horror writer) but the story itself was mediocre and there was little suspense.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2000

    What a Journey!

    This is the first Stephen King novel I have read. I was on the journey with Trisha from the start.... lost, scared and hopeful! Truly a wonderful tale with a flair to send chills your way! Loved it! Thank you, Mr. King!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2014

    Excellent

    Good short suspence

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2014

    Lol

    The thing following her was................SLENDERMAN!!! LOLZ!!!!! XD

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2014

    ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!! Thought I had read just about everything

    ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!!

    Thought I had read just about everything there was from this man. How I missed this masterpiece until now is beyond me, but I am so glad I found it!!!

    This is a tremendous story of a little girl lost, but oh so much more than that. It is a testament to the human will to survive, even in the most hideous of circumstances. There were funny moments, sad moments, and (being Stephen King) a few pretty scary moments! I am sure many will disagree with me, but these are my favorite Stephen books -- when the scary is more subtle and underlying. I fell in love with this book and with Tricia, rooting for her all the way.

    Thank you Stephen King for never disappointing me. I can't wait for whatever you have in store next!

    -- SPeeD

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2014

    Great story!

    I couldn't put this one down: I read in just a few days. One of my Stephen King favorites!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2014

    Great read for fiction fans

    This novel is not your stereotypical King, so if you are looking for horror, look elsewhere. However, I loved it! I had a hard time enjoying reading list selections when I was a kid because I preferred horror and mysteries, but when I took a chance on The Hatchet, I was pleasantly surprised. So, if you are a The Hatchet fan or fan of stories of survival from a physical and psychological perspective, you will love this. Also, unlike many off the reviewers, I actually read the whole thing and it was years ago so ut is good enough to have stuck with me over the years.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 29, 2013

    In my opinion, Stephen King's "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordo

    In my opinion, Stephen King's "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon" is not only a great adventure book, but an amazing thriller as well. When Trisha walks off of the trail away from her bickering brother and mother to pee, she suddenly gets lost from the trail. The mishaps that Trisha McFarland gets into is very real and psychologically terrifying, and I loved every second of it. About half way through the book the psychological horror really kicks in when Trisha drinks water from a stream and get ill, then she throws up all of her food that she ate was in her backpack. She soon starts hallucinating about "the thing in the woods", which is a human covered in bees with no eyes, these encounters scared me the most. What I enjoyed most about this book is the ending. The ending was left open so the reader isn't sure whether Trisha dies or not, by using the phrase "Game Over". This is not my favorite book, but definitely my favorite thriller

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2013

    Great

    This is an amazing read. Inspirational, scary, and sweet in equal parts. One of King's best.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2013

    Um I'm not sure what King was thinking with this book.

    This book confused me soo much. Maybe poets shouldn't read horror stories

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2012

    Great read

    This book may have been one of the best I have ever read i recommend you should tlread it if you like suspenceful mystery and all of that sorta stuff

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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