My Absolute Darling

My Absolute Darling: A Novel
By Gabriel Tallent

Warning: this book is not for everyone. It's dark, depressing and one hundred percent unsettling. But it's a powerful, brilliant piece of writing, and I gave it 4/5 stars.

In the same vein as A Little Life, Gabriel Tallent's debut novel takes you places that you don't want to go, describing in detail the very worst of humanity. Turtle is a 14-year-old girl who is abused by her widowed father - physically, psychologically and emotionally. He is a monster of a man - in fact, I don't think I've ever despised a character as much as Martin Alveston.

Set in a remote coastal area of California, Turtle lives with her father in their run-down, neglected homestead on a valuable piece of land that has been owned by her family for years. Not surprisingly, Turtle struggles with her schooling and feels like a social outcast, until she befriends a couple of young boys from her local town. Through them, Turtle glimpses a different way of living, and she slowly realises that there may be an alternative to being completely controlled by her father.

Despite the brutal and explicit content of My Absolute Darling, there is something compelling about this book that keeps you hooked until the end - although for the most part, you'll be holding your breath and wishing for it all to be over.  One thing's for sure: if you're prepared to push beyond your comfort zone and give this book a shot, Turtle's story will stay with you long after you've devoured the last page. But you'll be ready for a lighter Liane Moriarty book next!