My Absolute Darling By Gabriel Tallent: Review and Summary

My Absolute Darling - Gabriel Tallent - Éditions Gallmeister

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent is a powerful and thought-provoking work of literary fiction that explores the complexities of family, identity, and trauma. The novel follows the story of 14-year-old Turtle Alveston, who lives with her abusive father, Martin, in Northern California. Martin is a survivalist who has raised Turtle in isolation, teaching her survival skills and grooming her to be a warrior. However, as Turtle begins to question her identity and her role in the world, she must confront the dark secrets of her past and make a choice about her future.

Main Themes and Ideas

One of the main themes of My Absolute Darling is the power of self-discovery and self-acceptance. Turtle is a complex and layered character who is struggling to figure out who she is and what she wants out of life. The novel explores her journey towards self-discovery and how her relationship with her father shapes her views of herself and the world around her.

Another key theme is the impact of trauma on individuals and families. Turtle and Martin both carry deep emotional scars from their pasts, and their relationship is marked by abuse, manipulation, and violence. The novel explores how trauma can shape individuals and families, and how healing can be a long and difficult process.

Finally, the novel also tackles issues of gender and sexuality. Turtle is a young girl who is struggling to come to terms with her own desires and identity, and the impact that has on her relationship with her father and society at large. The novel explores the complexities of gender and sexuality in a nuanced and thought-provoking way.

Critical Evaluation of Writing Style

Gabriel Tallent’s writing style is both lyrical and honest, capturing the beauty and brutality of Turtle’s world in equal measure. The novel is told from Turtle’s perspective, and Tallent does an excellent job of immersing the reader in her internal world, with vivid descriptions of her emotions, thoughts, and experiences.

At the same time, Tallent does not shy away from the darker aspects of Turtle’s story, and the novel contains scenes of graphic violence and abuse. However, these scenes are never gratuitous, and always serve to deepen our understanding of Turtle and her struggles.

Strengths and Weaknesses

One of the strengths of My Absolute Darling is its complex and multifaceted characters. Turtle and Martin are both deeply flawed and deeply human, and their relationship is marked by both love and violence. The novel does an excellent job of exploring the nuances of their relationship, and how it is shaped by trauma, love, and dysfunction.

However, one weakness of the novel is its pacing. At times, the novel can feel slow and meandering, with long passages of introspection and description. While this helps to deepen our understanding of Turtle and her world, it can also feel repetitive and slow the pace of the narrative.

Comparison to Other Works in its Genre

My Absolute Darling is a unique and powerful work of literary fiction that stands out from other books in its genre. While it shares some similarities with other coming-of-age stories and family dramas, it is distinguished by its nuanced exploration of trauma, gender, and identity.

The novel has been compared to books like The Girl on the Train and The Lovely Bones, but it ultimately stands on its own as a distinctive and memorable work of fiction.

Overall Impression and Recommendation

My Absolute Darling is a powerful and thought-provoking novel that explores complex themes of trauma, identity, and self-discovery. While it can be a difficult and at times disturbing read, it ultimately leaves a lasting impression on the reader, with its vivid characters and poetic prose.

I would highly recommend My Absolute Darling to anyone who is interested in literary fiction that challenges and pushes the boundaries of the genre. It is a novel that will stay with you long after you have finished reading it.


Is this book appropriate for younger readers?

No, this book contains graphic scenes of violence and abuse, and is not suitable for younger readers.

Does the novel have a happy ending?

I don’t want to spoil the ending, but it is a complex and nuanced conclusion that reflects the themes and ideas explored throughout the novel.

Is this novel based on a true story?

No, My Absolute Darling is a work of fiction.

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