Tag Archives: Survival

Review: My Absolute Darling

My Absolute Darling

My Absolute Darling
By Gabriel Tallent
Riverhead Books, 9780735211179, August 2017, 432pp.

*Trigger Warning: Child Abuse/Sexual Abuse*

The Short of It:

An impossibly brave girl, her abusive father and the relationship they have between them will keep you turning the pages but it’s brutal and raw and gut-wrenching at times.

The Rest of It:

The title might suggest affection, but it’s the twisted “affection” that this father displays for his fourteen-old that will have you squirming every time he enters the room. Friends, this was a tough read. Why so tough? Because as you might not guess, the girl, known as Turtle, loves her father deeply. She realizes at a very young age that they are both damaged and there is a beauty in that. A beauty that is constantly evaluated as these two co-exist in a town, that for the most part, turns a blind eye to what is going on.

How can two damaged people survive without one another? Is it even possible? That is the question and the author does a very good job of presenting the love/hate relationship that these two have. I actually caught myself pitying the father at one point. And for every ounce of pity I had for him, I had the same amount of anger for Turtle. I caught myself putting some of the blame on her and then I’d put the book down and sit there shaking my head over it.

This author wrings all the feelings out of you. For those who have read the book, I’m not sure the ending worked for me but thinking about it, I’m not sure what exactly I’d change if I could.

As I noted at the top of this review, this book could be a trigger for anyone who suffered from child abuse or sexual abuse of any kind and it’s not clearly noted anywhere in the blurbs I’ve read.

My Absolute Darling has what I would call one of the most complex protagonists ever. Turtle is damn near feral but she’s so vulnerable and fragile too. If you can stomach the abuse that she suffers, then you will be rewarded with beautiful prose. At times I was reminded of A Little Life which gut-punched me over and over again.

An important read, but read with care.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Dog Stars

The Dog Stars

The Dog Stars
By Peter Heller
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780307959942, August 2012, 336pp.)

The Short of It:

Unassuming, sad and occasionally funny. A book about the Apocalypse but minus the zombies, suppurating wounds, or gratuitous violence that we’ve come to associate with the genre.

The Rest of It:

Nine years after 99% of the population has been wiped out by the flu, a man and his dog navigate the wasteland he’s come to call home, in an aging Cessna, limping along on fuel he’s salvaged from abandoned airports. Hig’s future is bleak. In spite of the “not so nice” people he encounters from time to time, he’s managed to become good friends with a loner named Bangley and when he is flying overhead, with his dog Jasper by his side, things don’t seem too awful.


Hig is lonely. His wife and unborn child were lost during the epidemic and although he’s comfortable and sometimes even has a sense of humor over his current situation, his need for human contact sends him to uncharted landscapes with the hopes of finding that elusive something that can offer up some hope for tomorrow.

I think this book is a tough read for a lot of people. Not because it’s graphic or too heavy but because the first half of it so hard to get into. Hig’s train of thought is presented in short, clipped half-sentences. This took a bit of getting used to and caused the story to halt along as an unnatural pace, but once I got used to the rhythm of it, I really wasn’t bothered and felt that it added something to the story. Hig is a guy who’s spent the better part of ten years with limited human contact; it made sense for him to lose the art of conversation.

The Dog Stars can be compared to The Road – but it’s light. It’s a lighter, more upbeat version of the apocalypse books you’ve come to know and with its limited list of players, the sense of desolation and loneliness take center stage. I could have done without the poorly penned sex scene at the end of the book, but given its rocky start, I liked it quite a bit (not the sex scene, but the book). It’s serious, sad and funny which is an odd combination for a book with this subject matter, but somehow it works.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.