"There are books we like well enough to recommend, but there are a very few—To Kill a MockingbirdCatch-22The Things They Carried—that we remember forever. To my own shortlist I can now add My Absolute Darling, by Gabriel Tallent. Fourteen-year-old Turtle Alveston is a brilliantly rendered creation, and her father is the most terrifyingly believable human monster to inhabit the pages of a novel since Harry Powell in The Night of the Hunter. This book is ugly, beautiful, horrifying, and uplifting." —Stephen King

“I read My Absolute Darling in one sitting, well past midnight, despite an early-morning flight: the book is that impossible to put down. Gabriel Tallent depicts Turtle's battle for her independence--body, mind, and soul--with brutal honesty and overwhelming tenderness. The result is a heartrending debut that will shock, then shake, then inspire you.” —Celeste Ng, New York Times-bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You

“It is unreal how vivid and compelling this book is. Turtle Alveston is one of the most vibrant characters I've come across in a long time, and every scene in this astonishing novel packs so much tension, so much insight, such beautiful prose and such masterful handling of detail, I simply could not stop reading.” —Phil Klay, National Book Award-winning author of Redeployment

“Explosive…what saves this novel from collapsing into the sensationalism of its climax is the richness of the writing and the power of its verisimilitude. Gabriel Tallent is a lapidary realist, exhaustively (and beautifully) describing everything from the structure of a wild-oats seed head to the tidal wave that sweeps Jacob and Turtle out to sea…There are many elements of this story we would rather not believe — all so convincingly rendered that we can’t help but believe them.” Boston Globe

“Tallent grew up near Mendocino and the magnificent, inhospitable landscape of northern California is itself a character here…a fast-paced adventure story…[a] strange and remarkable book.”The Guardian

“Every once in awhile there comes along a fictional character—Jane Eyre, Kunta Kinte, Jude St. Francis—whose plight and determination to overcome subsumes the reader so completely, we actually feel ourselves missing him or her after the final page. Turtle, the adolescent protagonist of Gabriel Tallent's debut novel, is that and so much more. For her unconventional wisdom and indomitable inner strength, and for Tallent's descriptive dexterity, which makes everything from Turtle's physical anguish to the smells and sensations of the lush California wilderness around her leap off the page—this is one of the most important books you'll pick up this decade.” —Harper's Bazaar

“This is a dark and heavy read that is difficult to put down…the writing is lush and vivid. You’ll read it with your stomach in your shoes, rooting for her the whole time.” –Marie Claire

“One of EW's favorite books of the year so far…an unputdownable coming-of-age novel.” —Entertainment Weekly

“[Tallent has] written a fearless adventure tale that's as savvy about internal emotional storms as it is about wrangling with family and nature… A powerful, well-turned story about abuse, its consequences, and what it takes to survive it.” Kirkus, starred review

“Few coming-of-age stories deliver the sheer lyrical power of Tallent’s debut … Lucidly written, both heartbreaking and heartfelt, this book is ultimately affirmative without the slightest sentimentality, and it’s remarkable.” Library Journal, starred review

“Turtle is an extraordinary character whose thoughts and actions enliven the pages of Tallent’s remarkable first novel—remarkable not only for its characterization but also for its minute examination of the natural world that Turtle inhabits. So vivid is the gorgeously realized setting that it becomes itself a major character in a novel that lingers in the mind long after the final page.” Booklist, starred review

“Emotionally fraught… Turtle’s story is harrowingly visceral.” Publishers Weekly

“[An] engrossing read.” —InStyle

“In his ferocious, heart-breaking first novel, Tallent deciphers the twisted relationship between Turtle Alveston and her rugged loner father, Martin…Tallent combines gorgeous passages about the wilderness Turtle knows well and a steady beat of dramatic tension in this smashing debut.” —"Between the Lines", BBC

“[A] gripping, vivid debut…Readers will root for Turtle as she sets out to escape and be absorbed by Tallent’s stunning descriptions of nature.” —RealSimple

"Easily one of my favorite debut novels of the past decade." —Michele Filgate, LitHub

“To read [My Absolute Darling] is to become an evangelist for it.” The Millions

"Turtle is the strong, resilient heroine we didn’t know we needed, and you’ll fall head over heels in love with My Absolute Darling.” HelloGiggles

“You’re going to be seeing this one everywhere pretty soon… a really remarkable tale about a remarkable young woman.” BookRiot

“Destined for Hollywood, the action here spills off the page with Tallent’s visceral descriptions of violence and the desperation to survive even the most unspeakable misfortune. It’s possible that we’ve never rooted harder for anyone than we did for the heroic protagonist, Turtle Alveston; nor loathed a book’s antagonist quite like her abusive father Martin. The cinematic pace of My Absolute Darling will have you physically reacting—clenching, sighing, relaxing, tensing up—as you barrel to the end of this incredibly redemptive, satisfying book.” goop

“Many books have been deemed “page-turners.” Many books have been described as “hard to put down.” Trust us when we say that My Absolute Darling, Gabriel Tallent’s debut novel, is exactly the kind of book that could inspire you to finish in one sitting and lose sleep over. To describe the novel as a coming-of-age story would diminish the extraordinary narrative of our protagonist, the fourteen-year-old Turtle Alveston. The northern Californian coastal community of Mendocino serves as the stunning, yet unforgiving natural backdrop to My Absolute Darling and thus the backdrop to the telling of Turtle’s first years as a young woman…beautifully vivid prose…My Absolute Darling is an account of that time in life when you begin to make decisions for yourself, when you fight for independence, and hope for a better future when nothing is certain. In the stunning prose of a far more experienced writer, Gabriel introduces us to a fourteen-year-old that can handle just about anything.” Westwood Westwood

“20 pages in, after meeting Tallent’s two leads and absorbing his tones and textures, it is hard to deny the novel’s artistic worth or resist its singular energy. Further on, once we have fully succumbed, it becomes clear My Absolute Darling is an absolute triumph…Tallent stuns with scenes of almost unbearable intensity. Only after the gut-wrenching, high-tension denouement does the drama let up. In places we read breathlessly, wondering how Turtle can possibly overcome and survive. And yet for all the assembled horrors, the novel contains great swathes of beauty in the form of rich and up-close descriptions of flora and fauna, landscape and seascape. Not since D H Lawrence has the turbulence, the rawness and the serenity of the natural world been so originally rendered. Tallent serves up long, thick, clustered passages which track terrain, map weather and capture the seasons but he also narrows his focus and dazzles with small bursts of incidental detail…[Turtle] emerges as one of the most vividly drawn and wholly sympathetic heroines in modern fiction. For once, believe the hype.” –The National

“Explosive…As a reader, I am resistant to novels about abuse — but My Absolute Darling thunders past that preference just as Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life did two years ago. These novels achieve something similar to what happens in the best fiction about the Holocaust, seducing us with beautiful language and characters and then setting loose the drama and horror of true human evil. I hated it — and loved every minute.” –Newsday

“It takes a lot to get a prerelease blurb from Stephen King, who has called My Absolute Darling a book he will remember forever. Debut novelist Gabriel Tallent's ability is apparent immediately, but as the book descends further into the psyche of its young heroine, one realizes that the beauty of his prose is a necessary counterweight to the horror at the heart of his novel… A work of monstrous beauty, My Absolute Darling ensures that Tallent will be remembered for a long time to come.” –BookPage

My Absolute Darling is cancel-your-plans good. It’s call-out-of-work good. Who is Gabriel Tallent, and from whom did he learn how to tell a story this spellbinding, paced this perfectly, and with such an alchemic blend of horror and hope? Novels rarely have the effect this one had on me, whether they’re an author’s first or final time around the block. For three days I spent every free hour with Turtle and Martin Alveston, and a remarkable cast of supporting characters, near the northwestern corner of the California coast, which in Tallent’s hands can feel like the edge of the world. The writing for all 450 pages is dazzling: leaning between scenes of unremitting tension are lush descriptions of the landscape's flora and fauna, which (occasionally, but not always) go some way toward controlling My Absolute Darling’s reader’s racing heart. My Absolute Darling is hard to put down, and harder to forget.” –John Francisconi, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT

“I believe in Great American Novels, but not THE Great American Novel. This is a Great American Novel: exquisitely lush language of the natural world; startlingly vivid creation of true characters; global understanding of social context, in a particular place; and in this case, steelwire narrative tension stringing through the beautiful prose like piano wire. It is the book this year that I feel every American should read, because of its greatness, and also because of its deep wrestling with issues of class, complacency, climate change, culture and especially gender. The Great American Novel of the moment, A Great American Novel for all time.” –John Evans, Diesel: A Bookstore, Los Angeles, CA

“My Absolute Darling is a novel that contains gorgeous descriptions of the natural world of the California coastal forest, compelling portraits of original and complex characters, and encounters with intimate, inescapable evil. 14- year-old Turtle Alveston is the hero and she and her father are individuals you will not be able to forget, or perhaps even get out of your mind, for some time. Some readers will be repulsed by My Absolute Darling while others will find it, as I did, a disturbing, authentic, and suspenseful account of the worst and best that can coincide in the world.” –Sarah Goddin, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC

“Everything about this story is lodged in my heart forever; the people, the action, the Mendocino countryside. And especially Turtle; her ability to survive the worst that life has to offer and still get up every morning and hope something will be different. This is the most difficult and best book I’ve read in a very long time.” –Anne Holman, The King’s English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, UT

“I read My Absolute Darling on vacation: love, love, love it! I love the open ended-ness of some of the relationships…and the ending, and the fact that I actually had sympathy for all for all of the characters—yes, even a little for the sick dad! It was definitely a book I couldn’t put down…can’t stop talking about it.” –Judy Wheeler, Towne Center Books, Pleasanton, CA

“My Absolute Darling. Riveting, brilliant, daring, dark. The combination of the damaged Martin, whose “protection” of his daughter, Kibble, Julia, or Turtle, depending, is veiled abuse, the gorgeous descriptions of guns, knives, and every single plant in northern California turn every convention of this familiar trope of surviving an abusive relationship on its head. A world at once fragile and unbreakable, lessons of surviving the unthinkable become lessons in salvation, and the absolute power of goodness and redemption are masterfully handled by the most talented author I have read in a long time. Gabriel Tallent is a genius and My Absolute Darling is a book for the ages.” –Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, KS

“There’s a character in My Absolute Darling who was immediately recognizable to me but rarely seen in literature: Martin, the hyper-educated backwoods hippie redneck lunatic. He's terrifying and charismatic, and has his eighth-grade daughter -- pretty intimidating herself, and deadly with a gun -- trapped in his strange reality. Their life together begins to unravel when she accidentally forges a bond with two local boys she finds lost in the woods. The intensity of the story, which builds toward an almost impossibly gripping crisis, is heightened by the perfectly rendered setting in remote coastal Northern California. This is dark, serious, and literary ... but it's also impossible to put down and has plenty of spot-on real-life humor and beauty throughout. Read it.” –Christie Olson Day, Gallery Bookshop, Mendocino, CA

“Oh my God, this book is haunting me today. Turtle, Julia, Kibbles, whatever name she goes by is a startling unforgettable character, living a feral life with an abusive father off the grid outside Mendocino. The physicality of subject, or the writing brings us a visceral work of writing that I couldn't bear to stop reading, in spite of the darkness that befalls Turtle. Now I know why my staff was all over this book, drooling and comparing it to LITTLE LIFE but saying it's not the same. It's even better.” –Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT

“My Absolute Darling is a punch to the gut, wherein the two main characters illustrate the startling contradictions of humanity. The beautifully rendered Mendocino setting works perfectly--from ash comes beauty, from fire life.” –Pete Mulvihill, Green Apple Books, San Francisco CA

“I want to get inside Gabriel Tallent's brain and understand where he came up with this story and these characters. Turtle Alveston is so different than anyone I’ve met or could imagine, and yet sometimes she’s just like any other teenage girl. This book broke my heart and was, at times, painful to read. Through it all, Turtle's spirit shines through as she survives everything her father and the world put her through. I can't wait to recommend this book to everyone I know.” –Abby Fennewald, BookPeople, Austin TX

“My Absolute Darling dug its claws into me deep and hard. The main character, a 14 year old girl struggling in a very difficult home, is as memorable a character as I have read in years. Her relationship with her father is a high-tension electric wire and her searching is believable and raw and poignant. If you like fiction that moves you, that stretches you, that raises questions about love, family and what it is to be human, this book is for you.” –Chris Morrow, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center VT

“I've thought of Turtle Alveston every day since I finished reading My Absolute Darling. I felt for her the same kind of intense concern that I felt for The Goldfinch's Theo, A Little Life's Jude, and All the Ugly and Wonderful Things' Wavy. This is a book for the ages.” -Emilie Sommer, East City Bookshop, Washington DC

“My Absolute Darling speaks to the jagged line that separates devotional love from cruel obsession. With Turtle Alveston author Gabriel Tallent has created a character whose essence is so fully realized that she emerges from the pages intimately familiar and unforgettable. The untamed coast of northern California is part of Turtle’s DNA, at once vulnerable and resilient, brutal and nurturing. Tallent’s transcendent writing draws out her characters’ conflicted thoughts, and her vivid descriptions make the coast’s stark beauty come alive. Turtle’s story will roil your mind and emotions, hijacking your attention as only the very best novels are able to do.” –Lori Feathers, Interabang, Dallas TX

“Beautifully written and unflinchingly brutal, My Absolute Darling is like a nightmare you can't wake up from, the most suspenseful chapters building a story that can't be put down. Even in its quieter moments, Tallent’s prose soars with rich descriptions of nature and the coastline wilds of Northern California. Yet the core of My Absolute Darling lies with the unforgettable and brazenly unique central cast of characters who reach out, grab you by your shirt collar, and pull you to the page. Make no mistake, this is a visceral, heart-in-your-throat type of read. Full stop. But it’s rewarding and it will be a book that's long discussed and recommended.” –Matthew Flores, BookPeople, Austin TX

A brilliant and immersive, all-consuming read about one fourteen-year-old girl's heart-stopping fight for her own soul.

Amazon • B&N • BaM • IndieBound • iBooks