My Absolute Darling

My Absolute Darling

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"Impossible to put down." NPR

"A novel that readers will gulp down, gasping.” —The Washington Post

"The word 'masterpiece' has been cheapened by too many blurbs, but My Absolute Darling absolutely is one." —Stephen King

A brilliant and immersive, all-consuming read about one fourteen-year-old girl's heart-stopping fight for her own soul.

Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At fourteen, she roams the woods along the northern California coast. The creeks, tide pools, and rocky islands are her haunts and her hiding grounds, and she is known to wander for miles. But while her physical world is expansive, her personal one is small and treacherous: Turtle has grown up isolated since the death of her mother, in the thrall of her tortured and charismatic father, Martin. Her social existence is confined to the middle school (where she fends off the interest of anyone, student or teacher, who might penetrate her shell) and to her life with her father.

Then Turtle meets Jacob, a high-school boy who tells jokes, lives in a big clean house, and looks at Turtle as if she is the sunrise. And for the first time, the larger world begins to come into focus: her life with Martin is neither safe nor sustainable. Motivated by her first experience with real friendship and a teenage crush, Turtle starts to imagine escape, using the very survival skills her father devoted himself to teaching her. What follows is a harrowing story of bravery and redemption. With Turtle's escalating acts of physical and emotional courage, the reader watches, heart in throat, as this teenage girl struggles to become her own hero—and in the process, becomes ours as well.

Shot through with striking language in a fierce natural setting, My Absolute Darling is an urgently told, profoundly moving read that marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525497905
Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/29/2017
Edition description: Unabridged
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

Gabriel Tallent was born in New Mexico and raised on the Mendocino coast by two mothers. He received his B.A. from Willamette University in 2010, and after graduation spent two seasons leading youth trail crews in the backcountry of the Pacific Northwest. Tallent lives in Salt Lake City.

Read an Excerpt


The old house hunkers on its hill, all peeling white paint, bay windows, and spindled wooden railings overgrown with climbing roses and poison oak. Rose runners have prized off clapboards that now hang snarled in the canes. The gravel drive is littered with spent casings caked in verdigris. Martin Alveston gets out of the truck and does not look back at Turtle sitting in the cab but walks up the porch, his jungle boots sounding hollowly on the boards, a big man in flannel and Levi’s opening the sliding glass doors. Turtle waits, listening to the engine’s ticking, and then she follows him.

In the living room, one window is boarded over, sheet metal and half-inch plywood bolted to the frame and covered in rifle targets. The bullet clustering is so tight it looks like someone put a ten gauge right up to them and blew the centers out; the slugs glint in their ragged pits like water at the bottom of wells.
“Years go by, with you thinking that it’s a kind of important existential work you’re doing, to hold back the darkness in the act of beholding. Then one day, you realize that you don’t know what the hell you’re looking at. It’s irreducibly strange and it is unlike anything except itself and all that brooding was nothing but vanity, every thought you ever had missed the inexplicableness of the thing, its vastness and its uncaring. You’ve been looking at the ocean for years and you thought it meant something, but it meant nothing.”


Excerpted from "My Absolute Darling"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Gabriel Tallent.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Customer Reviews

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My Absolute Darling: A Novel 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Child abuse and pedophilia make for a tough read. At times I wanted to stop, to walk away from it . But I couldn't. Both the storyline and the writing were too compelling. I was so immersed in the story that I'd be abandoning Turtle if I quit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written but the subject matter made it difficult to read at times it is still worth the read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book took me on a roller coaster ride of emotion. At times i thought i couldn't read any more. But i had to go back and finish. The book tears at your heart. Im glad i read the book. I didn't care the last 50 pages or so. Or the ending. Not sure what i expected i guess
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the kind of book that you find yourself, at times, laughing, crying, and angry depending on what chapter your on. It was disturbing on so many levels, yet, being the survivor of family abuse, I can understand what the authors intentions were for this book. The ending i believe fell extremely flat. There was no closure...unless of course we hear more about Turtle and what has become of her? I, for one would love a sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very upsetting subject matter. Like watching a train wreck.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I began reading this novel , I was wishing that the author would not have spent so much time in describing the flora and fauna of the settings . Later on , I was grateful for the deversion as the harrowing plot evolved . Such a sad story with an ending which will make you think .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The descriptions are excellent. The story about Turtle and her father’s abusivenesess is difficult to take. Don’t know if many could take it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very hard to put down. Shocking, terrifying story line that had me rooting for this very smart young girl. This book had me from page 1.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so difficult to read but absolutely breathtaking in so many ways
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly illuminating
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you would like to read explicit sexual and psychological scenes of child abuse, horrible violence, sadistic parental behavior, page after page of cursing and crude language, a gross finger amputation performed at home on a 10 year old girl, explore the sick psychology and pathology of a pedophile, sociopath, and survivalist, read a book in which the author uses obvious devices and coincidences for plot purposes, etc.....well, this is the book is for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gripping. Turtle steals your heart and your admiration.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldnt stop reading , wanted to just couldnt! Difficult subjects but totally consuming. This book was unbelievable and emotional. To get all of that from a book is what reading an excellent book is all about. Personally I was hoping for a stronger ending, but otherwise awesome book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a ride! Once started I could not put it down. This guy took his plot from the Best horror films around. At every turn it gets worse and worse, until you throw the book down, get a glass of water, then race to find out where you left off! Great book!
Anonymous 5 months ago
Anonymous 11 months ago
I purchased this book based on the positive review on the jacket and almost immediately regretted it. It took over two months to trudge through the novel, but I refused to just abandon it because I had spent money on it and I was also hoping it would get better. Spoiler alert, it did not. Not only is the subject matter horrifying (which you get no sense of from the description on the back) but the writing is clunky and overly descriptive. Page upon page of descriptions of flora and fauna that I found myself skipping over to try to get to the point. The characters are never fully developed and despite all the terrible things that happen to the main character, Turtle, I never developed any connection to her, and I finished the book with just as many questions as I had at the start. Do yourself a favor and skip this one. There are so many other fabulous books out there, don't waste your time on this one.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put it down or stop thinking about Turtle when I did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WARNING....SPOILERS: This book is hardcore and includes vivid images of incest and pedophilia. Also very vulgar with way too many curse words. Well written, yes. Difficult to read, yes. ~*~LEB~*~
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book grabs you and holds you in rapt attention Turtle, the main character, is a wild child, being raised by her single dad. They have a complex and compelling relationship. There are several scenes that I'll never forget, and the conclusion, which builds throughout the story, is astonishing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sad graphic story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Agree with most other posts. Tough read.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago