Book Review: My Absolute Darling

Author: Gabriel Tallent
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pub Date: April 29, 2018
Feel Learn Wonder Rating: 5/5

This has to be one of the harder books for me to review because I absolutely ( 😉 ) loved it, but it is so not for everyone. I already recommended it to the one person I knew could handle it, and except for here on the internet, am done recommending it to friends. Not because it’s not amazing, but because it is seriously not for the feint of heart.

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My Absolute Darling is the story of Turtle, a girl living with her father on a massive ranch in Mendocino, California. Her father, an alcoholic and survivalist, is adamant about the importance of preparing for the apocalypse, which he takes to the extreme. His relationship with Turtle is both physically and emotionally abusive, and as other people enter their lives, Turtle must do her best to navigate and compartmentalize all of the relationships. 

There are several things I wanted to highlight but I’ll start with the writing. I was so blown away by the writing in this book. What really stood out to me was the suspense that could be felt when just reading a paragraph about a spider that Turtle saw in the woods. When I realized that I was holding my breath while reading about something that could have otherwise been an extremely mundane topic, I knew I was in for something extraordinary. The danger comes when this writing style is used to describe extreme child abuse, the result is extreme discomfort. I really want to make it clear that if domestic abuse is a trigger for you, this book should be avoided. That being said, the writing is so so good.

As with any story about abuse, you’re always hoping that the abused will be able to escape. I’ve found that it can sometimes be hard to understand why the victim won’t get away, but there was something in this book that made me feel like I kind of understood Turtle’s hesitancy. It is such a complex issue and something I (luckily) will never truly understand, but I thought that this book did a really great job at exposing the reader to the complexities of the situation, as heartbreaking as they are.

Ultimately I thought everything about this book was well done – from start to finish, the plot was well developed, the characters were impeccable, and the writing was some of the best I’ve read recently. While the book is not for the feint of heart, I would encourage you to give it a shot if you think you can handle it. It’s a five star read for me, and not one I will forget any time soon.