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Gabriel Tallent Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

My Absolute Darling (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Gabriel Tallent is an author that grew up in the interesting city of Mendocino, California. Like many writers, he spent a lot of his time reading books such as the Greek Tragedies and Moby Dick. He attended Mendocino Community High School in his area and had a habit of going backpacking.

Tallent went on to attend and graduate from Willamette University, receiving his B.A. and having written a thesis that contended with the discursive construction of pleasure in Samuel Richardsons Pamela, which is not quite as boring as it sounds.

He was a crew leader as well for the Northwest Youth Corps and has held many jobs, including a not that exciting job as a cashier at the well-known department store Target, as well as a member of dining room staff at the esteemed Alta Lodge. He has also served food and worked gainfully as a food runner at The Copper Onion.

Tallent currently lives in Salt Lake City in addition to being a published author. He spends a lot of time hiking or looking at plants in the local Little Cottonwood Cotton. He has written many stories, some of which were published in the St Petersburg Review and Narrative. He is also a published author with his first novel being titled My Absolute Darling, being published by Riverhead Books.

My Absolute Darling is the first book to be written by Tallent and it debuted in 2017. Stephen King called this debut novel a masterpiece, something King described as being used too often but applicable here. The book has also been called brilliant, all-consuming, and immersive.

The book deals with the main character, a fourteen-year-old girl in the middle of what is a fight for her soul. Her name is Julia Alveston, also known as Turtle. According to all accounts, she is a survivor, but she doesn’t yet know that. She lives up along the northern California coast, where she wanders in the woods and also among the rocky islands, creeks, and tide pools of that area. The amount of flora and fauna that she knows and sees native to the west coast makes up one aspect of her world. However, Turtle also lives with something far darker than the natural beauty of the geography around her.

Turtle is named just like the nature she lives around. But while she lives an interesting and curiosity-driven world out in nature, when it comes to her own world, things are not as naturally ordered. She has been pretty much alone and isolated ever since the passing of her mother, confined to having to live with charismatic but tortured biological father Martin.

Martin is a survivalist who believes that the end of the world will eventually come. He has tons of weapons and his misogyny of women extends to Turtle, who shrugs off the concerns and social interactions of girls and women. She cleans and fires the guns that they own. She also brings Martin a beer every morning before going off to school, where she struggles.

Turtle is the absolute darling of her father’s eye. But at the same time, Martin terrorizes her and sexually abuses her. Even as she goes off to school, Turtle starts to realize that not everyone is living the type of life that she is. There are people out there with lives that are much better than hers– much, much better.

Turtle’s life at home and her life in nature is pretty much normal for her. She doesn’t really socialize with many people and keeps to herself while attending the local middle school, preferring not to speak to anyone who might seem like they are interested in her. All of that changes when she meets a boy named Jacob and his friend named Brett.

Jacob is in high school and is funny and nice to be around. He lives with nice parents in a large and clean house. He likes Turtle a lot, and with this contrast in her life Turtle starts to imagine a life without Martin while also realizing that nothing about her life at home with Martin is safe or going to last. Jacob and Brett, as well as their families, start to slowly befriend Turtle and come to care about her. Although she has all these new friends, Turtle still finds herself with a fierce allegiance to Martin.

Turtle and Jacob continue to spend time together and it is a real friendship while at the same time becoming more than just that: Turtle develops a crush on Jacob. And then for the first time, Turtle starts to imagine what her life might be like and contemplate the possibility of escape from a world that is quickly closing in on her– a world where Martin is not going to let anyone take away his most treasured possession.

The relationship between Turtle and her father who is absolutely obsessed with her is one that almost makes the reader squirm. Not only because of how evil Martin is, but because of how self-aware and in control of his monstrosity he truly is. His charm and his intelligence combine to make him a deadly force that steers the toxic relationship between himself and his daughter and truly shapes her world. Martin doesn’t want anything to come in between him and his possession– especially not some young punk friends.

Turtle must do the right thing in the end and break up the only world she knows because it is not a good one– although her loyalty that has been instilled in her from the beginning is a reason why this feels so psychologically wrenching. When it comes to giving up his only daughter and what he sees a sexual and biological possession, Martin is not going to give up control. He is not going down without a fight, and as a survival prepper, he has more than enough ammo to back him in his quest.

The reader is caught in the middle of a dark and masterfully spun web while reading My Absolute Darling. It’s hard to believe that even a fictional character could go through this, and the reader must remind themselves that the story is not really real. This novel is an incredibly interesting and compelling read from Gabriel Tallent and a stunning debut on to the literary scene.

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