I read about My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent on a Waterstones email and I knew I just had to read it. So I ordered it and picked it up the next day.
A friend of mine described it as ‘brutal’ and she wasn’t far wrong. Luckily, I like a brutal book, especially one which oozes as much quality as My Absolute Darling does.
14 year old Turtle Alveston lives alone with her father. She doesn’t have any friends and doesn’t like other girls or women. She can shoot the smallest of objects from a distance and dismantle a gun and put it back together like an expert. She knows she’s ugly and says she has a ‘bitch face’.
But she loves her daddy more than anything and she knows her daddy loves her. Even if he does sometimes hurt her. Everything about Turtle’s relationship with her father is brutal, right from the way they cook to the shooting practise her father makes her do.
Turtle doesn’t know why her teacher is so interested in her. She has a feeling that her life may be different from other kids’ lives, she just doesn’t know how different. Then Turtle makes friends with two boys and has an inkling of what life might be life with friends, a clean and tidy home and a caring family.
Will Turtle ever leave her daddy and find a happiness she didn’t know existed?
My Absolute Darling is a brilliant read. It reminds me of a cross between The Glass Castle and a Donna Tartt novel. It is incredible to think that it is a debut novel. But it is definitely not for everyone. There are many very disturbing scenes in the book. But if you can cope with a disturbing book, it really is well worth a read. I don’t think I will read a better book for a long time.