Saturday 26 August 2017

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent     {Reviewed by STELLA}

Many debuts come with much fanfare - some of which creates deflation.My Absolute Darling is not one of those. Author Gabriel Tallent can write in the most lyrical way about the most horrific violence and abuse. Unsurprisingly, My Absolute Darling has been compared with A Little Life and The Sport of Kings. Set against the backdrop of the California coast, in Mendocino (where the author grew up), we meet fourteen-year-old Turtle (Julia) - tough, resourceful, able to handle a gun at six, able to survive in the wilderness with little or no equipment, watchful, lonely. Turtle lives with her father, Martin - her mother disappeared when she was very little. She struggles at school yet in her internal world she is intelligent - knowledgeable and philosophical. Her home life is controlled and confined by a set of predetermined rules and expectations laid down by her disturbed father: a father who believes that the apocalypse is upon them, a paranoid survivalist who insists he is training his daughter to exist against all odds, who loves his daughter more than anything. Tallent does not shy from the abuse which Turtle encounters, and his skill lies in the care with which he portrays the relationship between father and daughter and the beauty of his words. Martin and Turtle both have an understanding of nature, of the physical world around them, and this seems to hold them in some kind of warped isolation together. Julia has no friends at school, knows no other life. Her only other true relationship is with her grandfather, an war vet alcoholic who lives in a trailer on the family property. When Julia is with her grandfather you sense her relax. At all other times, Turtle is overly aware and on edge, expecting a poor outcome, ready to be at fault, ‘a useless slit’. This tension overlays the whole book, so even when things are going well in Turtle’s world you sense that this is the calm before the storm and that the storm will be mighty. The tension is so finely wrought that you find yourself torn between turning away and being compelled to stay with Turtle despite your unease. At the half point of the book, Turtle takes off on a trek cross-country (something she does from time to time to save herself from the constant trauma), to be alone. This time she comes across two boys just a little older than herself who are out adventuring, unwittingly unprepared for the elements and completely lost. Turtle follows them into the night and decides to rescue them, and so makes a departure in her life - real contact with others. This encounter becomes a pivotal point in the story: something changes in Turtle, something that Martin senses and feels threatened by. From this point, you understand that merely surviving will not be enough. Turtle will have to use her sharp and finely tuned instincts to decipher her truth and be tougher than she has ever been. And this is a tough, but an incredible, novel that reveals the internal world of damage and explores the psyche of Turtle humanely and honestly. With a remarkable character, a plot that keeps you wired, lyrical writing about relationships and nature, My Absolute Darling is compelling and unsettling.
>>This book will be released this week. Let us put a copy aside for you

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