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My Absolute Darling

Dymocks Book of the Month - September 2017

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

‘You think you're invincible. You think you won't ever miss. We need to put the fear on you. You need to surrender yourself to death before you ever begin, and accept your life as a state of grace, and then and only then will you be good enough.'

At 14, Turtle Alveston knows the use of every gun on her wall; That chaos is coming and only the strong will survive it; That her daddy loves her more than anything else in this world.And he'll do whatever it takes to keep her with him.

She doesn't know why she feels so different from the other girls at school; Why the line between love and pain can be so hard to see; Why making a friend may be the bravest and most terrifying thing she has ever done. And what her daddy will do when he finds out …

Sometimes strength is not the same as courage.
Sometimes leaving is not the only way to escape.
Sometimes surviving isn't enough.
RRP $29.99
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  • Title: My Absolute Darling
  • Author: Gabriel Tallent
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • ISBN: 9780008185220
  • Length: 234.0 millimetre
  • Width: 153.0 millimetre
  • Languages: English
  • Subtitle: The Most Talked About Debut of 2017
  • Format: PaperBack
  • Category: General Fiction
  • Publication Date: 21/08/2017
  • Pages: 432
  • Height: 23.4 millimetre


21/08/2017 10:44:24 AM - Bronwyn
Deeply disturbing
This book is deeply disturbing. Tallent’s description of the abuse, cruelty and neglect that young Turtle experiences at the hand of her father displays brilliant writing skills, delivering a breathtakingly ugly and barbaric use of imagery that is too powerful to merely put aside or forget. However, while he is clearly a gifted writer there are elements of this story that do not ring true, particularly his main character, Turtle. She has suffered horrifying sexual, physical and psychological abuse, and yet Tallent’s description of these events and his depiction of her mental health does not clearly reflect that which I would expect from such situations and the victim. It’s unclear to me if he is glorifying her heroism, or if it just gratuitous violence with no real understanding of abuse and the experience of the victim. This is confirmed somewhat by the last two chapters. They seem too light, sugar-coated and Disney-esque, providing a neat and tidy conclusion which definitely does not reflect what came before or how life would have in reality continued for young Turtle. Reading this book was hard work. I’m glad that I did, and wish that I hadn’t. It should probably come with a content warning.

21/07/2017 9:41:37 PM - Josh
I received an ARC to read and review. Thank you Dymocks and Harper Collins / 4th Estate. All I can say is that this book is phenomenal. At times it tears out your heart and makes you sick - it's disturbing and twisted and down-right f***** up. At other times it's so beautiful, so real and so human, you wonder whether you're reading a fiction novel or a recount of true events. It's an emotional thrill-ride, and it will leave you speechless. Turtle is one of the greatest characters to come out of modern fiction. As Stephen King said, it is a masterpiece. I'm certain it will be a number one. Josh Radwell.

21/08/2017 10:50:29 AM - Kim
Absolutely disturbing
This may well be a brilliant read, but I couldn't get past the end of the first chapter when - SPOILER ALERT- Turtle's father sexually abuses her. There's a horribly tense atmosphere which, while skilfully created, is not fun to read. As I haven't finished the book I don't feel qualified to give a star rating but maybe I will have to...

5/08/2017 9:08:24 AM - Louise
Challenging is probably the best word to describe this read - Turtle's life is sad and, at times, horrifying. Living with her survivalist father who alternates between abuse and preparing her for the coming apocalypse he firmly believes is imminent this is a dark journey. Certainly not for everyone but the writing is vivid and takes you right into Turtle's mind and experiences

27/08/2017 1:18:41 PM - Emily
Full on!
For me, this book was not a page turner - simply because it's tale is so harrowing I had to keep pausing to catch my breath. I found myself almost yelling out loud to the main character in my wish to help her out of her situation. The characters are very detailed as are all the descriptions! I found myself writing down page numbers to revisit because I loved the writing and the way some concepts were explored. Unlike any book I've ever read - would definitely recommend - but warn that some images are impossible to now un-see. A story that will stay with me for some time.

13/11/2017 9:41:56 AM - Deana
For the brave
Dymocks kindly sent me a copy of this book to review, for which I am always so thankful for, but I too just could not get into it. It has taken me sometime to get the guts to write this review and had to read some others before attempting because it is not helpful to be negative, the truth is I just did not enjoy this book at all, it is not an easy read due to the writing and subject matter. I have to say towards the end of the book it got marginally better, but overall if you are looking for a good read steer clear!

21/07/2017 9:14:26 AM - Zoe
This book was incredible. At times heart wrenching and horrifyingly thought provoking, but at times sweetly innocent. An absolute must read.

10/08/2018 3:27:09 PM - Rebecca
Confronting read
When Dymocks sent me an ARC copy in exchange for a review, I was expecting a totally different kind of read. But the graphic and confronting read that I received was no less enjoyed. I would say to be careful reading/gifting this book to someone who has personally experienced abuse. I would also not recommend this book to anyone under the age of 18 without parental considerations. But as a literary read, it was definitely worth the effort.

17/08/2017 10:10:50 AM - Nikolina
Confronting and yet so captivating
After picking up the proof copy of My Absolute Darling I found it hard to put down. It is definitely not for everyone, especially not the faint hearted! It is a story that will intrigue you, will repulse and shock you and then inspire you. There were moments in this story that had me at the edge of my seat and other moments that made me feel sick to my stomach. Yes to some this book to some people may seem too confrontational however 'predictable' books do not win awards and My Absolute Darling deserves an award. Gabriel Tallent's writing is sensational, what a debut!

1/09/2017 8:45:12 PM - Michelle
Not for everyone
Dymocks sent me a proof copy as a Gold member for review. **WARNING** this book contains multiple instances of abuse. It's gritty, bleak, gripping and really put me in the headset of how abuse and PTSD can take many forms and paralyse us into inaction. Very well written and will haunt me for a while. I do appreciate that the ending isn't the Hollywood type, it's about survival.

19/12/2017 2:03:57 PM - Mike
Gabriel Tallent is a new, exciting and very original writer. The story abounds with shades of light and dark. So very, very dark! Turtle Alveston is a survivor and heroine. Her father Martin powerful and beyond scary. Because of the language and dark themes this book will not appeal to everyone. You’ll feel battered and bruised but inspired at the end of this very modern and masterful story. Thanks to Dymocks and HarperCollins for the opportunity to review this uncompromising novel.

22/08/2017 8:38:25 AM - Liz
Amazing courage
The teenage years can be tough, but when you’re growing up without your mother in a household dominated by a gun-toting survivalist father, life is always going to be tricky. Set against the backdrop of the brooding redwood coast of northern California, My Absolute Darling is compelling, very confronting and at times terrifying. The courage and heart of Turtle Alveston is amazing and inspiring. Beautifully written and very hard to put down.

3/08/2017 6:33:12 PM - Diane
I was given this book to review, and before I start I must say that it is not a happy book. The book is written from the perspective of Julia, aka Kibble, aka Turtle, a fourteen-year-old girl living with her abusive, delusional father, Martin. Turtle's mother is dead, but whether or not her death was due to suicide is anyone's guess. Martin and Turtle live in a run-down house on a small property close to the ocean. Also living on the property (in a derelict caravan) is Daniel, who is Martin's father and Turtle's grandfather. There are very few other characters: a teacher at the local school, a couple of high school boys and their families, a young girl... and the action of the story is firmly focused on Turtle and her father. The story is depressing, a fact that is reflected in the surrounding landscape. Tallent's descriptions are extremely skilful, but everything he describes - the landscape, the place where Turtle and Martin live, Daniel's caravan - ooze an ugliness, a negativity and putridness, which simply serve to emphasize the disturbing nature of the theme. It was interesting that, at the end of the book, we find Turtle attempting to create a garden - something living and beautiful as a foil to all the horror. That the author is male and the perspective is female did not completely work for me. I feel that Tallent probably attempted to bridge this problem by creating a female heroine with pronounced male characteristics - crazy about guns, addicted to swearing and bad language, uninterested in her appearance. At times I felt that Turtle's response to her situation, especially her emotional response was more male than female. Given her unbelievable upbringing and the feral environment in which she lived, it is understandable that her response to people and situations would not be the norm; however, at times I found it all a little out of sync. Although we all know that there are many other Turtles and Martins out there, and although there is something to be said for making the general public aware of such hideous abuse, I felt that there was almost a voyeuristic wallowing in the physical and emotional distress of the characters. This is not a book I would reread, and I doubt that I would recommend it to anyone else.

10/08/2017 10:59:29 PM - Anne
Thanks to Dymocks and the publisher for the chance to read this thought-provoking book. I can't say it was a pleasure to read but I could not put it down. Congratulations to Gabriel Tallent on a stunning novel that takes you into the minds of both the main characters - Martin, a psychopath waiting for the end of the world and Julia, his daughter who both wants to stay and love him, but also escape his atrocities. The climactic chapters near the end where Julia does get away but knows he will follow her are so tense that they are almost unreadable. The book is a voyage of darkness for the reader, yet the prose is uplifting in many ways, particularly the descriptions of nature and the environments around Mendicino, California where the story is set. Not a book for everyone, but a brave book and ultimately satisfying.

29/08/2017 9:25:18 AM - Ella
Not for me
Dymocks sent me a copy of this book to review, and I just could not get into it. I read between 50 and 100 pages and nothing has happened so far, apart from *SPOILER* some incest. The beginning of this novel makes you feel like you're starting half way through a story, nothing is explained and there's nothing to hook you in. I couldn't finish this book.

11/10/2017 5:07:43 PM - Thi-My-Tam
Warning: Extremely disturbing
Firstly, thank you to Dymocks and the publisher for the proof copy I received. Secondly, the book was a challenge to read. I’ve had this book for a few months and found myself putting it down multiple times; the incest, abuse and rape scenes described in gratuitous detail was confronting and disturbing. While this book is well written and heartbreaking, it’s just not for me.

23/08/2017 6:47:23 PM - Michelle
Extremely well written and gripping. Keeps you turning the pages wanting to see what happens next. Very good read which will appeal to a wide range of tastes

12/08/2017 6:32:05 PM - Beth
Wow....just wow! Gabriel Tallent delivers a story which is terrifying, raw and brilliant. This book stays with your for days after finishing it. Turtles dad is one of the most disgusting hateful characters I have ever come across yet I found myself captivated in what is sometimes a challenging, confronting story to read. Thank you to Dymocks and the publisher for the opportunity to review this novel.

21/08/2017 10:30:42 AM - Sandi
Fantastic read
I loved this book and thanks to the Publisher and Dymocks for the proof copy to read. The characters were so beautifully described and the conversations rang so true that even if I couldn't empathize with some of the characters I felt like I knew them and could easily imagine them. The book would make a great movie. I couldn't put it down I had to find out how / if / where Turtle came through.


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In addition to the estimated delivery date range, on the product page you will find how long an item will take to be dispatched.

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All our estimates are based on business days and assume that shipping and delivery don't occur on holidays and weekends.


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Australia Post deliveries can be tracked on route with eParcel. You can track your delivery by going to AusPost tracking and entering your tracking number - your Order Shipped email will contain this information for each parcel.

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To track orders sent by DHL, go to DHL tracking


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Deliveries to destinations outside Australia are made by DHL courier, and cannot be made to post office boxes. Charges for international delivery destinations are available below. For international deliveries we will hold your order until we can send you all your items at once.

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In the event that the courier company fails to deliver your order due to invalid address information, they will return the order back to Dymocks Online.

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If your order has not yet been shipped you will need to send Dymocks Online an email advising the error and requesting a change in details. If your order has a status of "packed" or "shipped" we will not be able to guarantee any change in shipping details.

Unfortunately, you will be liable for any costs incurred in return to sender parcels if the information you provided was inaccurate.