3 Sentence Summary
Gabriel Tallent’s My Absolute Darling is a powerful and emotionally intense novel. It explores the harrowing story of a 14-year-old girl named Turtle as she tries to escape the clutches of her abusive and manipulative father. With exceptional character development and unforgettable moments, this book will leave a lasting impact and is a must-read for those seeking a truly remarkable experience.
Summary Read Time: Less than 4 minutes
Actual Book Length: 417
First Published in: 2017
Below is the detailed yet quick My Absolute Darling summary:
Set in the picturesque Mendocino, California, our story unravels around fourteen-year-old Turtle. She’s wrestling with her school vocabulary homework, under the stern watch of her father, Martin. He’s a survivalist, preparing Turtle for an impending ecological disaster he fervently believes in. Yet, his training isn’t benign. Martin’s harsh words and more sinister actions have left Turtle in a state of isolated pain.
In her isolation, Turtle convinces herself of Martin’s love, despite the mental and physical torments he puts her through. To prevent her from revealing their life to the outside world, Martin threatens Turtle and anyone who shows concern for her. The only other person in her world is her grandfather, Daniel, with her mother’s absence looming under a shroud of mystery.
Daniel tries to sway Martin away from his harmful parenting methods, but to no avail. When he discovers bruises on Turtle, he confronts Martin, hoping to rescue his granddaughter. Yet, the confrontation’s intensity triggers a fatal stroke, adding to Turtle’s growing list of losses.
In her rebellion against Martin’s sexual abuse, Turtle takes to running away. During one of these escapades, she stumbles upon two older boys, Brett and Jacob, lost in the woods. Despite her initial fear, Turtle assists them, creating her first friendships in the process.
After his father’s death, Martin vanishes, leaving Turtle alone for three months. She uses this time to grow her friendship with Brett and Jacob, particularly growing fond of Jacob. However, when Jacob attempts to make her acknowledge her father’s abuse, Turtle fiercely rejects it.
Martin returns one day, bringing along a young girl, Cayenne, who he claims he saved from abuse. He pits the girls against each other, but Turtle and Cayenne find friendship instead. One night, Martin attempts to assault Turtle, but she refuses him, fearing a potential pregnancy. Her refusal redirects Martin’s intentions towards Cayenne.
Turtle decides to stand against Martin’s assault on Cayenne, confronting him with her gun. But Martin is undeterred, attacking Turtle instead. She escapes with Cayenne, seeking refuge at Jacob’s house. Yet, they are not safe for long. Martin arrives, leading to a deadly confrontation.
The book concludes with Turtle, now residing with her former teacher, tending a garden as she begins the arduous journey of healing from years of trauma. She’s experienced the nightmare of abuse firsthand, yet she’s also glimpsed the potential for a life beyond it. Even after enduring the worst, Turtle’s determination to protect those she loves ultimately defines her.