Review: My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent @4thEstateBooks


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At 14, Turtle Alveston knows the use of every gun on her wall; That chaos is coming and only the strong will survive it; That her daddy loves her more than anything else in this world. And he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her with him. She doesn’t know why she feels so different from the other girls at school; Why the line between love and pain can be so hard to see; Why making a friend may be the bravest and most terrifying thing she has ever done. And what her daddy will do when he finds out… Sometimes strength is not the same as courage. Sometimes leaving is not the only way to escape. Sometimes surviving isn’t enough.

Did you love The Marsh King’s Daughter? Well, this is the hardcore version.

This is probably one of the hardest reviews I’m ever going to write. Because My Absolute Darling is no ordinary novel. This is not the kind of book I usually read. It’s not an easy book, by any means. Some will fall helplessly in love with it, others will struggle and abandon it. It’s that kind of book.

I don’t want to say too much, but I can assure you this book is brutal and twisted. It’s about Turtle’s coming of age… but this is not your classic young adult tale. Turtle’s childhood and early adolescence has been different from anyone else’s. Her father, Martin, is physically, sexually and psychologically abusing her and she’s conflicted. She loves him and hates him at the same time. He’s her father, after all. Her saviour, her only world.

The writing by Gabriel Tallent was wonderful. Hard to read, definitely, but gorgeous nevertheless. We follow Turtle’s voice throughout the novel, and her thoughts are devastating, hilarious at times, raw and complicated. She’s not particularly nice to anyone, especially women, but how can we possibly hold that against her?

I admit I struggled more than once, but I couldn’t stop reading or thinking about it either. I just wanted Turtle to be free. I wanted her to realize that other teenagers live different lives. That she deserved to live surrounded by love and kindness. That she was strong enough to rebel against Martin.

My favorite scenes were the ones featuring Turtle’s interactions with the two boys, Brett and Jacob, and her teacher, Anna. They were so genuinely kind and selfless that the contrast was even more palpable. Plus, Brett and Jacob’s dialogue scenes were so funny to read. Which was kind of a relief after all the terrible things that were happening.

Did I enjoy this book? I’d have to say no, enjoy is not the right word. Would I read it again? Definitely not. BUT IT’S SUCH A GREAT NOVEL. Read at your own risk.

Netgalley, 4th Estate, 2017

30 thoughts on “Review: My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent @4thEstateBooks

  1. Inge | The Belgian Reviewer says:

    Wow your review is giving me the chills! I loved The Marsh King’s Daughter but am I ready for the hardcore version? I’m very conflicted but it’s absolutely not because I think this isn’t a brilliant novel, I totally believe you! Excellent review!


  2. Susie | Novel Visits says:

    I’ve been waiting for a review of My Absolute Darling form someone I trust, so thank you. You told just enough to give me a good feel for it. I was disappointed not to get an ARC for this one, but now I’m not so sure. I still think I want to read it, but it might be best to save it for a time when I’m in the right frame of mind for a really heavy story.


    • Annie says:

      ❤ Thanks Susie. That's the problem with this one, I don't know if I could recommend it. I struggled. It's not an easy read, not just because of the topic but because of the writing, too. I'm curious and will wait for your thoughts when (if) you decide to read it!


  3. raven avery says:

    Great review! I always feel the need to read books when people say it’s one that will really divide people, just to see where I fall but you made this one sound really good. I’m not averse to hardcore 🙂


  4. Renee (Itsbooktalk) says:

    My answer to your first question is a big fat NO! While I love your review, I think I’m going to continue to leave this one in the DNF pile, I just don’t think it’s for me as we already discussed. This is my much anticipated read of the summer that was the biggest disappointment for me.


  5. Keeper of Pages says:

    I must admit, I was put off by the cover and the title, then I read your review! You had me at “this is the hardcore version”. I think I’ll mosey on over to NG and see if this one is still available…


  6. annelogan17 says:

    Wow this book seems really intense, and good on ya for finishing it even though it was tough. Books like this are important for us to read because it forces us to ‘witness’ someone else’s trauma, but you’re right that not everyone is up for it. Great review!


  7. Stephanie says:

    Excellent review, but I’m definitely going to have to pass. I so thought I could read The Marsh King’s Daughter and it slayed me. The writing was superb, but the content. This would just do me in. Ugh. And it’s crazy because I wanted to read it, so I’m glad I waited for a review first.


  8. Diana says:

    It does sound quite heavy but interesting. I like the the sound of the characterization especially of the last three people you mentioned. This reminds me though, I still need to get a copy of Marsh King. Great review.


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