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My Absolute Darling: The Best Novel You'll Read All Year

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efore you stroll the streets on First Fridays in downtown Bend, check out this monthly review featuring reading recommendations courtesy of the Source and Dudley's Bookshop Cafe. Then head down to the shop for a discount!

Harper's Bazaar calls it "One of the most important books you'll pick up this decade." Stephen King calls it a "masterpiece," comparing it to "Catch-22," "To Kill a Mockingbird" and the "The Things They Carried," as a book you'll remember forever. In my write-up to the publisher, I used words including "searing," "brutal," and "incandescent."

Simply put, "My Absolute Darling" by first-time author Gabriel Tallent, is the Best Book of 2017 and one that will be talked about for a long time to come.

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Set in a beautifully rendered rural Mendocino, Calif., community, this is the story of Turtle Alveston, a 14-year-old wild child more at home cleaning a gun or running barefoot through the redwood forests than at school or hanging out with friends. As we meet Turtle, she is only just beginning to realize that something is wrong with how her father treats her. How she comes to terms with this and what she's going to do about it are at the heart of this gut-punch of a novel.

Turtle's father, Martin, is a charismatic monster who will haunt your thoughts. Moments of horrible cruelty toward Turtle are juxtaposed with others of great insight and tenderness, helping us to see him much the same way Turtle does as she begins to understand the relationship can't continue.

It's been almost two months since I read "My Absolute Darling," and I still wonder how Turtle is doing. Never in my life have I pulled so hard for a young girl to find some small bit of happiness in hers. Does she find it? I'll let you decide—but in the end, she at least finds some semblance of peace... and maybe that's enough.


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