By Gabriel Tallent
Published by Fourth Estate (12 July 2018)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher
At 14, Turtle Alveston knows the use of every gun on her wall. She knows how to snare a rabbit, sharpen a blade and splint a bone. She knows that her daddy loves her more than anything else in this world and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her with him.
But 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. Or why making a friend may be the bravest and most terrifying thing she has ever done.
Sometimes the people you’re supposed to trust are the ones who do most harm. And what you’ve been taught to fear is the very thing that will save you …
My Absolute Darling traumatised me, resulting in very disturbed sleep. Not many books manage to do that. I'm not upset that I read it, as it was everything I expected it to be (though admittedly possibly worse), but this was the reason why I had put off reading it for so long.
This is a tale of love and survival in a brutal world, a coming-of-age novel involving a teenage girl who has had to grow up too soon. Turtle Alveston has a difficult and unusual life and a warped view of the world around her. But she knows that her father loves her and would risk everything to keep her safe.
This is a tough, challenging read - brutal, unsettling, raw and shocking yet also filled with vivid beauty and hope. The harshness is cushioned by plush descriptions of the Californian coastline and its fauna and flora. I wanted to turn away yet couldn't as the writing was too compelling, too addictive and too powerful.
My Absolute Darling is a thought-provoking read about victims and survival - a personal struggle of nature versus nurture and right versus wrong. But it won't appeal to everyone. You'll need a strong constitution - be prepared to read about a tough subject (graphic in places) and have your emotions churned and then shredded.