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My Absolute Darling

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  38,578 ratings  ·  6,564 reviews
A heartstopping, beautifully written debut, telling the story of one girl’s search for freedom.

‘You think you’re invincible. You think you won’t ever miss. We need to put the fear on you. You need to surrender yourself to death before you ever begin, and accept your life as a state of grace, and then and only then will you be good enough.’

At 14, Turtle Alveston knows the
Hardcover, 420 pages
Published August 29th 2017 by 4th Estate (first published April 29th 2017)
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Diana Braxton Why is it remotely acceptable for white men who've never experienced incest or sexual abuse to write about it? Why do all of these women, most of whom…moreWhy is it remotely acceptable for white men who've never experienced incest or sexual abuse to write about it? Why do all of these women, most of whom are privileged white women, accept that his insights are worth more than those of the many women who have been writing about this issue for decades? Have they ever bothered to actually try to help survivors?

Let's analyze your question one part at a time.
First, it is "remotely acceptable" for a white man to write about incest or sexual abuse because 1. You actually have no clue what the background of the author is. It is entirely possible for white men to have been sexually abused or in incestuous relationships. Even if Gabriel Tallent wasn't in one, it doesn't mean he doesn't have experience with these sorts of relationships from knowing someone. 2. While this is definitely a sensitive topic, the very fact of it is, when you write fiction, you create something. Something that doesn't have to be based on reality or your experiences. Another good reads member answered your question very articulately, explaining that just because we've never been to other planets doesn't mean we can't create fantasy worlds with characters who live on them. 3. People can write about what ever they want to write about. It is considered "remotely acceptable" because everyone has a write to express themselves and write what they want.

Now on to the next part of your question.
You're asking why "privileged white women" accept his insights more than women who've published for decades.
1. I have no idea where you get this concept that "privileged white women" are simply accepting his work as fact without doing any other reading. Unless you've personally gone through everyone's good reads account to compare their read list and actually see that no one has read any other literature on abuse and relationship, I don't think you can make such a broad, sweeping claim.

Also, you simply can not make the claim that people are "accepting his insights as worth more" because you can't judge the value at which they hold his words or the worth they place on the words of other authors. And once again, this doesn't mean people haven't been aware of the other women writing about this for decades.

2. The idea that all the women reading this book are "privileged white women" is absolutely ludicrous for the same reason your first argument is invalid - because you can't judge a person's "privilege" or background or ethnicity by simply looking AT THEIR FREAKING GOODREADS ACCOUNT. Okay? Okay. Glad we established that most people don't tell the stories of their drug-addicted parents, or their painful miscarriage, or the death of their sibling, or their years in poverty or their own experience in an incestuous or abusive relationship on their good reads account.

And as for actually bothering to try and help survivors.

This may be the dumbest question because it's an inquiry directly into the daily lives of these readers that simply can't be answered. I can't say that every reader of My Absolute Darling has gone to volunteer or been there for a friend, but I am sure many of them have as many can relate to this story. Further, if they haven't before, maybe reading this will inspire people to help others and make a change and if that is so, that is entirely a good thing.

Disclosure: I have not read this book, I am simply answering the logical flaws in your line of question, based heavily off both the positive and negative reviews made available by goodreads. (less)
Michael Albright Most overrated book of the year. I almost put it down halfway through, and wish I had. This male author likes to put the c-word and the p-word into pe…moreMost overrated book of the year. I almost put it down halfway through, and wish I had. This male author likes to put the c-word and the p-word into people's mouth's more than Quentin Tarantino likes the n-word. The graphic violence against young women at the hands of a man seems gratuitous and pornographic. None of the characters seem remotely believable. The ending somehow manages to be predictable, yet lack satisfying closure at the same time. At least now I know to bother with the movie.(less)
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Average rating 3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  38,578 ratings  ·  6,564 reviews

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Sep 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emily May
Aug 23, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, contemporary
“The truth of you, if it is there at all, exists beyond an unbridgeable and irreducible epistemological gap.”

Wow, I 100% know what people mean when they say they felt like they read a completely different book from everyone else. The critics have been loving My Absolute Darling. All the reviews appearing in my feed have been singing its praises. Stephen King gave it the thumbs up. And yet, I found this painfully awful. On multiple levels.

Where do I even begin? I could start with what I suppo
Jennifer Masterson
Bam! All the freaking stars!!! Why do we read? I'm serious? Why? Because books like these exist! "My Absolute Darling" in my humble opinion is a modern masterpiece! An absolute, all consuming, beautifully written work of art! I loved it so much!

I'm completely exhausted. This book was all consuming. I wanted to save Turtle from her monster father all throughout this book. I wanted her to run and get help when she could have. Most of this novel is dark and disturbing but there are glimmers of joy,

Warning: extreme and disturbing material!

This is a psychologically chilling, dark and disturbing novel set in remote Mendocino, California, charting the dysfunctional, an understatement, relationship between 14 year old Turtle (Julia) and her end of the world believer, armed to the teeth, survivalist father, Martin, who has stockpiled dried food that will last 3 years. This book has echoes of Helena and Jacob Holbrook's relationship in The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne, although in compa
Elyse  Walters
Update $1.99 Kindle special!!!!! Mixed reviews—I loved it.

The setting of this story is what first interested me in this novel....having grown up in the San Francisco bay area.
The Northern California coast - Mendocino- is one of the natural wonders in the world. It's surrounded by secluded cliff side beaches, bird-rich estuaries, rivers, hiking trails, canyons, waterfalls, giant redwoods, the famous Pygmy Forests of pine and cypress, and it's an unincorporated community.
In the late 60's and 70'
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, favorites
There are people who are falsely claiming that those of us who are giving this book a high rating are doing so because we love that it is sordid, incestuous, exploitative, etc. These false accusations are offensive and say more about the individual and their low view of women than it does about anyone else.

Here's the truth: If anything, the book is getting high ratings despite its disturbing content. For proof of this, read any number of the excellent reviews for this book.

Also, it's been said
My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent is a 2017 Riverhead Books publication.

Very dark and disturbing, but one of the most noteworthy novels I have read this year!

Despite some very stellar reviews, I waffled back and forth, unable to decide if really wanted to tackle this one, but thanks to my GR friend, Jennifer Masterson’s review, I took the plunge.

I knew going in this story was controversial and perhaps not for everyone. Yet, I still was not emotionally prepared for the intensity of the nov
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
Disturbing, Riveting, and Impossible To Put Down
Easiest five stars I've given all year.
This book will take your breath away.

Turtle and her father live on the Northern California Coast. They have a close relationship.. perhaps too close. As Turtle grows and matures she suddenly realizes that the walls are closing in around her and she senses a rising urgency for freedom. However, will her father ever allow that?

Gabriel Tallent is an absolute TALENT (every pun intended). His writing is flawless an
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: disturbing
My Absolute Darling is absolutely disturbing. And dark. And depressing. Turtle is 14 years old and is being abused by her father - physically, sexually and emotionally. He is an extreme renegade survivalist and has isolated Turtle from friends, from people.

They live in a remote part of California along the coast where she often escapes in order to breathe and sort out the emotional mess and confusion she is gripped with. During one of these escapes, she makes a friend. A boy who is a little olde
What the heck did I just read? Why ever would I have decided to pick up this piece of garbage? Truth be told, I saw so many four and five star reviews that I think I probably read a different book from the rest of them. Yes, I could have cast it aside and believe me I sure wanted to. However, with so many glowing reviews, I figured just one more chapter, another fifty pages and I would come to a point where this "masterpiece" would find its way into my brain. Well, that never happened and now I ...more
Bill Kupersmith
Sep 11, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
How did I manage to order a copy of the English edition of this loathsome piece of drivel? It’s a virtual copy of the American version. But it had a different dust jacket. That mattered. As I bathed in the stream of raw sewage that constitutes “dialog” I kept thinking back on Claire Fuller’s Our Endless Numbered Days, which also features abusive father-daughter incest (now, that phrase is a pleonasm!) in the wilds, but is so much subtler and nuanced that for me it epitomized that difference betw ...more
Mary Beth
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just got back from a Florida vacation!

4.5 stars!!

Turtle Alveston is a survivor. She has grown up isolated since the death of her mother, and is raised by her charismatic father Martin, who is an awful man who tortures her. She is fourteen years old. She is raised with lots of guns. They are all hooked on wall pegs in her room. She has a Lewis Machine & Tool AR-10, a Noveske AR-15 and a Remington 870 twelve gauge pump-action shotgun. Her favorite gun is her AR-10. It is so heavy. Every night she
Canadian Reader
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
It can't be anything but the full five stars.

It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that this book might just have ruined the word 'darling' for me. Each time I see it written or hear it spoken, I get that kick in the stomach, the tightening at the back of your throat, the slight tensing of the body you get when you remember something awful. You want desperately to turn away. I have rarely been so overwhelmed with the sheer physicality of my response to a book. I am sickened. I am living someone
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

It's obvious why readers are so polarized on this book. This book is about physical, emotional and sexual abuse of a fourteen-year-old girl by her father. It's not an easy read and many will be turned off by it. Hell, we all should be turned off by it!

Turtle Alveston is a fourteen-year-old girl living with her survivalist father in Northern California (her Mother is Dead). She knows the land and has no problem going out into the forest exploring on her own and is quite handy with a gun.
Julie Christine
No. This isn't okay. It's not okay to portray unspeakable violence against a child as though it were a thriller novel and posit it as high literary art. This book, with its overwritten prose that borders on the baroque, glorifies the rape and incest and abuse of Turtle by suggesting that the teen might possibly enjoy it, in her confused love for and loyalty to her sociopathic father.

I am aware this book is a critics' darling. It is compulsively readable. Turtle and her friends are impossible no
Oct 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the hardest novels for me to review ..... Honestly, I was about to finish My Absolute Darling after approximately 100 pages. The sheer horror of the story was much too much for me at that moment. Some scenes were too explicit for me Yet, I continued, and I'm glad I read it till the very end. Turtle is a most unusual girl, abused in the most horrid ways imaginable .... and yet, she knows how to survive. She's physically and mentally scared, but she is just a teenager and I hope tha ...more
Carol (Bookaria)
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2017, fiction
Turtle is fourteen years old and lives with her father Martin. She goes to middle school but is a very reserved child who has difficulties excelling in school. One day she meets Jacob, a kid that is charming, funny and completely lovable. This encounter ignites a spark in Turtle that propels her to question the relationship she has with her father. 

Turtle is an amazing character. The novel is narrated from her point of view and the author did an excellent job developing the story and her journey
Cathy Branciforte
Jun 19, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Did not finish....could not finish. Disliked this book a lot. I normally don't write about books that I don't finish and don't like giving negative reviews, but with all of the hype on this book, I thought there needed to be some balance of opinions. I really disliked it.....all of the boring descriptions of guns, the long descriptions of everything else. Once I started skimming over entire paragraphs, then pages, I knew I was not going to finish this book. I am sure I'm not the only one.

PS. I h
Helene Jeppesen
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I didn't quite know what to expect from "My Absolute Darling" other than that it would be a heart-breaking story, and it certainly was! This debut novel from Gabriel Tallent is so raw, intense and honest from the very first pages and throughout that you can't help but smile at the appropriateness of the author's last name.
Turtle, our 14-year-old protagonist, lives alone with her father in Northern California. Their relationship is bizarre and stinging; Martin, the father, teaches Turtle to shoo
Emer (A Little Haze)
I often think a three star review is the hardest to write. For me it's a positive rating and should be viewed as a recommendation to read if the subject matter or author interests you and that's firmly the recommendation that I give to 'My Absolute Darling'.

Gabriel Tallent is a wonderful writer. There is absolutely no denying that. However, for me personally this book was too much. I don't think I am the right reader. The novel follows the story of young Turtle Alveston and her abusive upbringi
Hard as I tried I just couldn’t love this book. Heavy on content and heavy on descriptions made this book well....heavy. It’s dark, gritty, grim and depressingly disturbing.

Such as most of the content of the book the writing felt murky. It was well written it can’t be disputed. But I felt almost angry at the author for putting me through so much turmoil and trauma with barely any relief. I guess this was the power of this book but I struggled to want to read it. I can already see that this book
Ivana - Diary of Difference
There are books that make you love them from the first page. This one was not one of those!

There were millions of times when I wanted to give it up and put this book down - I found it extremely hard to keep going, but I somehow finished it.

The story itself is so twisted, it is just unbelievable. It is one of the most twisted plots I've ever read in my life. And there were parts I loved, but there were also parts I hated.

The thing I loved the most was the adventures Turtle had with Jacob.
The t

Many reviewers praise this debut novel by Gabriel Tallent, citing the lyrical prose and powerful coming-of-age story. Other reviewers skewer the book for its graphic scenes of rape, violence, and psychological torture. I'm in the latter camp.

The book relates an intense tale of an adolescent girl finding her voice - and guts - in very difficult circumstances.

This is an admirable theme. To me though, the book is disturbing and - in some places - quite horrific.


Julia Alveston, called Turtle,
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There's been much written about this book already, and I don't wish to tread well-worn ground. Let me just say that I found it to be an incredibly compelling portrait of survival and coming-of-age: of a girl who is a survivor in the only way she knows how--by hunkering down in her shell (her nickname is Turtle, after all)--until at last she recognizes what she's been experiencing as the abuse it always was.

It's also a book that eschews easy stereotypes. Turtle's abusive father, Martin, is an er
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
After reading Roxane Gay's review, I realized she had said pretty much everything I felt about this over hyped, needlessly wordy novel. It's offputting in the extreme with the sexual language describing the 14 year old girl's body as her father rapes her and brutalizes her. It seems pornographic at times. I know the author wants to show "Turtle" as ambivalent about the abuse she has suffered, but it's not believable from the girl's point of view. It seems to be more of a man's fantasy, than actu ...more
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This debut novel awed me. It destroyed me. It inspired me. Yes, it's the story of a 14-year-old girl, her knife, her Sig Sauer, and her sadistic, survivalist father. But it is also one of the most beautifully written and spectacularly poignant novels I have ever read. I loved every single word. Every. Single. Word.
EDIT: I keep going back and forth on my star rating for this book. For me the tie-breaker question is "would I recommend this book to others?". After thinking about it further, and hearing interviews with the author, my answer to that question is no.

Having finished My Absolute Darling feels like being chewed up and spat out, covered in muck. Reading this book is a grueling experience, and not one to be undertaken lightly.

Equal parts compelling and appalling, I've seen other reviews describ
I may be missing out on a masterpiece but I.just.can’t! I don’t want to read another book about a semi-feral child with wilderness skills and a depraved father, and I definitely don’t want to read another book about (view spoiler) this. I struggled with the writing style, from the father’s philosophical diatribes to the descriptions of the landscape, but the gratuitous language employed to describe...well, let’s just say I’m not up for continuing this journey. I stuck with ...more
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gasp. Gasp!! Oh man gasp!!! 4.25 stars. Um...I don’t even know where to start with this one. I kept putting this book aside, it was nerve wrecking. And it’s considered to be a young adult genre type book!??! Yup, this book was a tough read indeed, it was full of angst.
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