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My Absolute Darling

My Absolute Darling

Blurb

'My Absolute Darling' is about the dysfunctional relationship between 14 year old ‘Turtle’ and her father Martin.

Turtle is a skilled survivalist and has been able to shoot a gun since a very young age. She loves nothing more than to wander in the woods around her home and has skills to help her survive in any number of situations in the woods.

Turtle fends of interest from anyone who tries to break down her barrier and become her friend. Martin is her life and she is his ‘absolute darling’, his ‘kibble.’

Martin is obsessive in his survivalist attitude and in his constant need to ‘protect’ Turtle. He alternates between ‘loving’ father, ice-cold punisher and guilt-ridden abuser with increasing speed. Martin is unpredictable and unstable, a dangerous mix.

Then she meets Brett and Jacob when they become hopelessly lost in the woods. She knows she should leave them to fend for themselves but she can’t quite bring herself to and ends up guiding them to safety. In the process Turtle begins to see how she might just have met some people she wants in her life.

Turtle fights against her feelings because she knows she is Martin’s possession and she worries about the lengths he would go to in order to prevent her having anyone but him in her life.


Our Review

My Absolute Darling was a real struggle for me to read from the beginning. I almost gave up at 3% and came even closer at 6% but the sheer number of 5* reviews from other readers convinced me to carry on.

Gabriel Tallent outlines the dysfunctional relationship between 14 year old ‘Turtle’ and her father Martin.

In some ways Turtle is quite a skilled survivalist and has been able to shoot a gun since a very young age. She loves nothing more than to wander in the woods around her home and has skills to help her survive in any number of situations in the woods. Their home is like something from Wrong Turn or some other kind of horror movie.

“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.”

Turtle may be able to survive well outside of school but in school is an entirely different matter. Turtle doesn’t fit in with her classmates seeing the girls through her father’s distorted opinions (sluts, whores and cunts.) She struggles to keep up with her classmates in terms of her schoolwork and her teacher, Anna, is worried about her.

Turtle fends of interest from Anna and anyone who tries to break down her barrier and become her friend. For example, when a girl in her class tries to make friends with her she immediately shoots her down and at the same time shows the extent to which she echoes Martin’s misogynistic views.

“Turtle thinks, slit you from your asshole to your little slut throat as be your friend.”

Martin is her life and she is his ‘absolute darling’, his ‘kibble.’ Turtle does everything she can to please Martin and to avoid his many sadistic punishments if she does or says something he doesn’t agree with.

Martin is obsessive in his survivalist attitude and in his constant need to ‘protect’ Turtle. He alternates between ‘loving’ father, ice-cold punisher and guilt-ridden abuser with increasing speed. Martin is unpredictable and unstable, a dangerous mix.

He physically, sexually and mentally abuses her and controls every aspect of her life. Turtle’s identity is wrapped up in Martin’s view of her and she is tough on herself if she makes the slightest mistake or behaves in a way she knows he would hate. His control of her is absolute and she mentally and physically does everything she can to prove to herself and to him that she is not just a ‘little bitch.’

“Don’t be a little bitch. Kibble.’ He stands perfectly still. ‘You’re being a little bitch. Are you trying to be a little bitch, kibble?’

Martin himself is socially isolated apart from his occasional poker games with friends and the odd time when he goes to collect Turtle from his father’s. Martin and his father have a tortured relationship but Turtle is close to her grandfather despite Martin’s attempts to turn her against him. Her grandfather intervenes where he can but it is unclear whether he knows the extent of their situation or whether he simply is too scared to intervene. Turtle feels Martin’s reluctance and keeps her grandfather partially at arms length.

Then Turtle meets Brett and Jacob when they become hopelessly lost in the woods. She knows she should leave them to fend for themselves but she can’t quite bring herself to and ends up guiding them to safety. In the process Turtle begins to see how she might just have met some people she wants in her life.

Turtle fights against her feelings because she knows she is Martin’s possession and she worries about the lengths he would go to in order to prevent her having anyone but him in her life.

As time progresses and she begins to spend more time with the boys Turtle realises that her life with Martin may not be as secure as she always thought. She begins to see things through Jacob’s eyes and when someone else’s life is put in danger Turtle realises she might have to use all her survival skills to escape from Martin.

My Absolute Darling was a disturbing and emotive read to say the least but having finished it I can see why it has been given such rave reviews. Normally I can read a book within a few days if I enjoyed it but this book took me close to a week to finish even when I began to see what a good book it was. The main reason it took me so long to read is that a lot of the scenes are quite graphic and make for uncomfortable reading, to say it made me feel physically sick on many an occasion would not be an exaggeration.

The quality of Gabriel Talent’s writing is clear throughout My Absolute Darling. The descriptions of the landscape around Turtle throws the reader right into her world and keeps them there through every excruciating experience.

I loved reading the conversations between Brett and Jacob about literature and the contrast their naïve natures provided with Turtle’s brutal upbringing. As a character study, My Absolute Darling was full of fantastic options as each character is well-written and comes alive for the reader.

My Absolute Darling is not a book I will forget in a hurry and is certainly one I will read again if I can bring myself to. 

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 4.3/5

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