Review: My Absolute Darling

This debut novel by Gabriel Tallent, My Absolute Darling, is an excellent but unsettling novel of extreme child abuse. It is heart breaking and devastating to read but it captivates you and makes it hard to stop, even when you feel like you can’t take anymore. The novel has a pretty even pace as you move through it, but as you get closer to the end, the pace quickens, making it almost impossible to put down.

Turtle, whose real name is Julia, although only her teacher and principal call her that, lives with her father Martin, a sociopath who believes that the world is due for an ecological disaster any day. In the house she shares with him she suffers severe and traumatic emotional, physical, and sexual abuse at the hands of her father. The way that Tallent details the abuse is difficult to read, in the very first scene of the book Martin is calling her a “little bitch”, and it only gets worse from there.

As the novel progresses, Turtle starts to realize that she needs to escape. This urge to escape is only heightened when she meets two high school boys, and develops a crush on one of them, Jacob. The boys instantly take a liking to Turtle, and the way that they talk makes her dizzy.  The boys also bring some light hearted scenes to the novel which helps break up the otherwise disturbing content of the novel.

The language that Tallent uses to convey these violent scenes of horrific abuse that Turtle undergoes at the hand of her father is uncomfortable to say the least. He explores Turtle’s case of Stockholm syndrome in a way that makes you feel for Turtle, but never have pity on her. She is a 14 year old who faced with the violence that she is subjected to is strong and brave, and even finds herself able to provide moments of tenderness when it is needed. He is really able to convey why a victim of abuse sometimes chooses to stay with their abuser, even if they know on some level that it’s wrong.

I gave this novel five stars. The writing is beautiful and lush, all of the characters are full and well rounded, and the story is dark and captivating. There are going to be people who don’t like the way that Tallent described Turtle and her relationship to her father, almost as one who likes her abuse, “In the waiting she by turns wants and does not want it. His touch brings her skin to life, and she holds it all within the private theatre of her mind, where anything is permitted, their two shadows cast across the sheet and knit together.” Tallent makes it clear that it is abuse, but also wants it known that the characters love each other, although not neccesarily a love that should be celebrated. Martin’s love for Turtle is a possessive love, denying Turtle her individuality. Turtle’s a complex mix of a daughter’s love for her father and a 14 year old girl suffering from Stockholm syndrome.

I had a hard time walking away from this novel, as I turned the page I was hoping for more but at the same time, I don’t think I could have taken anymore. I am very excited to see what Gabriel Tallent does next.

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– Hannah

 

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January Wrap Up

I am so thankful January is over. January was the month from hell, and I’m pretty sure it was actually 458,603,837 days long. Every time I thought January was close to ending there were still like 10 more days until the actual end of the month. Let’s just say I am SO ready to start fresh in February.

I wanted to use today to reflect on how my January went in terms of my goals. How did I do in accomplishing them? Do I want to change any of them? Do I have any new goals? Basically, what worked and what didn’t. So without further ado…

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(Nothing motivates me more than this song.)

The Unread Shelf Project

I did a pretty good job with some of my goals this month for January, but for some of them I fell off the wagon. And by “I fell off the wagon,” I mean I threw myself off the wagon and let it leave without me. I may or may not be referring to my book buying ban and how well it didn’t go. (I am 100% talking about how badly I did with my book buying ban.)

All of the books that I read this month were books on my unread shelf. So I did a really good job being able to cross those off my list. I read seven books this month, six physical books and one book on my kindle. So in the sense of working through my unread books that were already on my shelf, I did AWESOME. The key word unfortunately is already.

Confession time: I bought a lot of books this month. I bought books when I went to Maine to visit a friend from college, I bought more books from my local bookstore, I went to Barnes and Noble twice leaving with books and I ordered some off of Amazon. So yeah, I threw myself off that wagon pretty hard. I know I don’t want to keep adding to the books on my Unread Shelf because then I won’t be able to accomplish my large goal for that, which is to get to 100 or less unread books on my shelf. I also know, I LOVE to buy books. There is no where I love being more than at the bookstore (except maybe Disney World), and there is nothing I hate more than leaving the bookstore without buying any books. So, how do I fix this going forward?

I think I am going to try and get back on the book buying ban, but keep it to smaller time frames. I thought I was a moderator, someone who can only do something in moderation, but apparently I’m an abstainer. I need to completely abstain from something otherwise it becomes an extremely slippery slope. So for February, I’m going to try and not buy any books, and reevaluate how that goes at the end of February. Wish me luck.

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(Thanks Lando)

My Blog

For my first month of blogging ever I’m feeling pretty good. I know there are things that I’m looking to improve for next month, like making sure I get my review’s up. I read seven books in January and I was terrible about getting my reviews up. I need to start setting time aside after I finish a book to write my review. So that is my plan for next month. I mean look at all these good books I read this month!

 

Books I Read

I am very proud of the amount of books I read this month. I read seven books in total this month and I don’t remember the last time I read so many books in one month. And as a bonus, there was only one that I didn’t enjoy as much as I wanted to enjoy it. So it was a great month not only for amount of books read but quality of the books I read too. I even had a couple 5 star reads which was exciting!

  • The World According to Star Wars by Cass R. Sunstein -⭐️⭐️
  • The Power by Naomi Alderman -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (and so far definitely number one on my list for 2018 favorites)
  • Strange Weather by Joe Hill -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Red Clocks by Leni Zumas -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • The Immortalists -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • My Absolute Darling -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I do have some reviews that I’m working on for The Immortalists, and My Absolute Darling which will hopefully be coming in the next week so keep a look out!

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Next Month!

I am SO excited for February. I’m participating in a fun challenge started by Alisa over at @worldswithinpages (on Instagram) and here is her blog, called Fantasy in February. Where the goal is to read strictly fantasy. I am really excited for this because I love fantasy but I always get sucked up into classics and contemporary fiction. I’ve gotten some really good recommendations and I can’t wait to get started. Join us or follow along with the hashtag #fantasyinfebruary on Instagram!

I also started an IRL book club with some of my friends at work and our first book is Sleeping Beauties by Steven King and Owen King which I am the most excited to read.

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What books did you read in January? Was your January like mine or did you have a great January! Tell me about your month in the comments below!

– Hannah