Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At fourteen, she roams the woods along the northern California coast. The creeks, tide pools, and rocky islands are her haunts and her hiding grounds, and she is known to wander for miles. But while her physical world is expansive, her personal one is small and treacherous: Turtle has grown up isolated since the death of her mother, in the thrall of her tortured and charismatic father, Martin. Her social existence is confined to the middle school (where she fends off the interest of anyone, student or teacher, who might penetrate her shell) and to her life with her father.
Then Turtle meets Jacob, a high-school boy who tells jokes, lives in a big clean house, and looks at Turtle as if she is the sunrise. And for the first time, the larger world begins to come into focus: her life with Martin is neither safe nor sustainable. Motivated by her first experience with real friendship and a teenage crush, Turtle starts to imagine escape, using the very survival skills her father devoted himself to teaching her. What follows is a harrowing story of bravery and redemption. With Turtle's escalating acts of physical and emotional courage, the reader watches, heart in throat, as this teenage girl struggles to become her own hero—and in the process, becomes ours as well.
Shot through with striking language in a fierce natural setting, My Absolute Darling is an urgently told, profoundly moving read that marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer.
About the Author
Gabriel Tallent grew up in Mendocino, California, thrashing through the underbrush in search of anything awesome. He attended the Mendocino Community High School and spent a lot of time backpacking, re-reading Greek tragedies, and trying to figure out Moby Dick. Tallent received his BA from Willamette University and wrote his thesis on the discursive construction of pleasure in Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, which is more interesting than it sounds. He has worked as a crew leader for Northwest Youth Corps, as an extremely bored and distracted checker at Target, as dining room staff at the Alta Lodge, and as a food runner and server at The Copper Onion. He lives in Salt Lake City, where he can be found climbing or futilely trying to identify plants in Little Cottonwood Canyon. His stories have been published in Narrative and in the St Petersburg Review. His debut novel, My Absolute Darling, was published in August 2017 by Riverhead Books.