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In this audiobook review, we explore the compelling narrative of Gabriel Tallent’s “My Absolute Darling.” This remarkable story captures the listener’s attention with its intense and complex plot, vividly drawn characters, and thought-provoking themes.

As we delve into this audiobook, we will analyze its powerful storytelling, unique writing style, and the impact it has had on readers. Join us on this journey as we discover what sets “My Absolute Darling” apart and why it is a must-listen for anyone looking for a captivating and profound listening experience.

Introducing “My Absolute Darling”

Welcome to “My Absolute Darling” audiobook review, where we delve into the captivating narrative of Gabriel Tallent’s masterpiece. In this section, we introduce you to the story’s premise, the author Gabriel Tallent, and what sets this audiobook apart, giving you a glimpse into the world of “My Absolute Darling.”

The Story

“My Absolute Darling” follows the journey of 14-year-old Turtle Alveston, who lives in the deep woods with her abusive father. Their relationship is complicated, and she must navigate the harsh realities of growing up under his abusive tutelage. Her desire for freedom sets her on a course of self-discovery and acceptance, leading to a compelling and emotional tale.

The Author

Gabriel Tallent is an American author and the mastermind behind “My Absolute Darling.” He is known for crafting raw, emotional, and thought-provoking narratives that are both challenging and captivating. Tallent has proved to be a literary genius, and his writing style sets the tone for audible brilliance.

What Sets This Audiobook Apart?

“My Absolute Darling” is more than just a story; it is a journey. What sets this audiobook apart is the realism of the plot, the profound character development, and the unique, thought-provoking themes. The complex characters and the immersive writing technique make this audiobook a masterpiece. It is an emotional rollercoaster that leaves you feeling exposed and yet satisfied.

Stay tuned as we take a deep dive into the plot, powerful character portrayals, writing style, and narrative technique of “My Absolute Darling.” It is much more than a coming-of-age story, with themes that resonate deeply with listeners and far-reaching social commentary that provokes thought and reflection.

Plot Summary of “My Absolute Darling”

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent is a story of a young girl named Turtle Alveston, who lives with her abusive father, Martin Alveston, in the northern California wilderness. Martin believes that the end of the world is near and trains Turtle in survival skills, firearms, and hunting. Despite her father’s cruel treatment, Turtle idolizes him and believes that he is the only person who loves and understands her.

As Turtle begins to come of age, she meets two boys, Jacob and Brett, who become her friends and introduce her to a world beyond her father’s control. Turtle begins to realize the severity of her father’s abuse and recognizes the need to escape. The novel reaches its climax when Martin, becoming aware of his daughter’s awakening, refuses to allow Turtle to leave and becomes violent towards her and her friends. This leads to a heart-stopping confrontation, with Turtle’s survival hanging in the balance.

This novel deals with themes of isolation, abuse, and survival that are thought-provoking and profound, capturing the reader’s imagination from start to finish. The story is not for the faint of heart, as it contains scenes of explicit violence and abuse that may be unsettling for some listeners.

Turtle Alveston: A Complex and Compelling Protagonist

Turtle’s character is a central focus of the novel and serves as the lens through which we experience the story. She is a complex and compelling character, driven by a desire to escape her abusive father and find her place in the world. Her inner turmoil and struggle to reconcile her feelings for her father with his abusive behavior are the driving force of the story, making her a character that the listener will root for throughout the book.

“‘My dad’s not like that… he loves me, he’s the only one who really knows me,’ she said to him with conviction, more than ever sure that this was true. ‘I don’t need you either, you shouldn’t have come out here!'”

A Gripping Narrative with Stunning Descriptions

Gabriel Tallent’s writing style is fluid and evocative, with stunning descriptions that transport the listener to the remote, northern California wilderness. The contrast between the natural beauty of the landscape and the brutality of Turtle’s reality is skilfully drawn, creating an unforgettable backdrop for the story. Through vivid imagery and poetic language, Tallent constructs a narrative that is both beautiful and harrowing, captivating the listener from start to finish.

Main Events in “My Absolute Darling”

Event Details
Turtle is introduced Turtle is introduced as a young girl living with her abusive father in the northern California wilderness.
Turtle meets Jacob and Brett Turtle meets two boys, Jacob and Brett, who introduce her to new experiences and a life beyond her father’s control.
Turtle’s father becomes increasingly violent Martin, Turtle’s abusive father, becomes increasingly violent towards her and her friends as he realizes his grip on her is slipping.
Turtle and Martin confront each other Turtle and Martin have a violent confrontation, with Turtle’s survival hanging in the balance.
Turtle escapes Turtle escapes from her father and begins a new life.

Overall, “My Absolute Darling” is a powerful and unforgettable novel that explores themes of abuse, survival, and redemption. The story is carefully crafted, with memorable characters and stunning descriptions that will leave a lasting impact on the listener.

Powerful Character Portrayals

In “My Absolute Darling,” Gabriel Tallent has created a cast of characters that are richly complex and unforgettable. At the center of the story is the protagonist, Turtle Alveston, a young girl who has been hardened by a life of abuse and neglect. Through Tallent’s writing, we see Turtle’s strength and vulnerability in equal measure, as well as the contradictions that make her such a compelling character.

Equally fascinating are the supporting characters in “My Absolute Darling.” Turtle’s father, Martin, is a disturbing and twisted figure whose own past traumas have left him deeply troubled. Yet even as we recoil from Martin’s actions, Tallent forces us to confront the humanity that lies beneath his monstrous behavior.

Other characters, such as Jacob and Brett, provide a glimpse into a different kind of life, one that is both appealing and unnerving to Turtle. Through these varied portrayals, Tallent explores the intricacies of human nature and the ways in which past experiences shape our present selves.

“As hard as it is to read at times, “My Absolute Darling” is an incredible exploration into the human psyche… Tallent knows how to create characters that feel real and true, even if we wish they weren’t.” – The New York Times

Writing Style and Narrative Technique

One of the standout features of “My Absolute Darling” is Gabriel Tallent’s unique writing style and narrative technique. Tallent’s beautiful prose and vivid descriptions transport the listener into a world of depth and complexity. The use of unconventional sentence structures and poetic phrasing adds an extra layer of immersion, making the listener feel truly captivated by the story.

Tallent also uses a unique narrative technique in “My Absolute Darling” that contributes to the overall power of the story. The use of first-person narration allows the listener to experience the inner thoughts and emotions of the main character, Turtle, in a raw and visceral way. This technique puts the listener in Turtle’s shoes and makes them feel as though they are experiencing the events of the story firsthand.

Through his writing style and narrative technique, Tallent creates a world that is vibrant and immersive, driving the listener to continue listening and needing to know what happens next.

Audiobook Narration

One of the key elements that can make or break an audiobook experience is the narration. In the case of “My Absolute Darling,” the chosen narrator, Alex McKenna, delivers an exceptional performance that enhances the story’s overall impact.

McKenna’s narration is both nuanced and emotional, capturing the complexity of the story’s characters and themes. Her voice perfectly embodies the protagonist, Turtle, bringing out the character’s vulnerabilities and strength in equal measure.

Additionally, McKenna’s ability to differentiate between characters through accents and tones adds an extra layer of immersion to the audiobook experience. Listening to “My Absolute Darling” feels like being transported into the story’s world, thanks in no small part to McKenna’s expert narration.

If you’re a fan of audiobooks, “My Absolute Darling” is a must-listen for the exceptional narration alone. Prepare to be fully absorbed in the story, thanks to Alex McKenna’s masterful performance.

audiobook narration

Themes and Social Commentary

“My Absolute Darling” is a powerful story that explores various themes and offers thought-provoking social commentary. At its core, the book is a coming-of-age tale that follows the journey of a young girl named Turtle as she navigates the complexities of family, trauma, and identity.

The book addresses several themes that resonate deeply with readers, including the search for self-discovery and the impact of childhood trauma on adult relationships. Turtle’s journey is a poignant commentary on the struggles of growing up, the decisions we must make to shape our lives, and the lasting impact of the relationships we form along the way.

The book’s social commentary is also a critical aspect of its impact. “My Absolute Darling” touches on several societal issues, including gender roles, the effects of isolation, and the importance of community. The book raises thought-provoking questions about the values and traditions that shape our cultural norms and invites readers to consider how these beliefs influence our lives.

Gender Roles

Turtle’s journey challenges traditional gender roles and societal expectations. She is raised by a father who imposes his own views of masculinity on her and struggles to come to terms with her own identity as a girl. The book raises questions about the limitations of gender roles and encourages readers to challenge traditional norms.

The Effects of Isolation

Turtle’s isolation shapes her perspective on the world and reinforces her father’s harmful beliefs. The book underscores the importance of community and the dangers of isolation, highlighting the transformative power of human connection.


“My Absolute Darling” highlights the importance of community in shaping our lives. Through Turtle’s journey, the book shows how the relationships we form have the power to shape who we are and the choices we make. The book underscores the transformative power of shared experiences and the strength that comes from building connections with others.

Critical Reception and Awards

Since its release, “My Absolute Darling” has been met with critical acclaim and has received several prestigious awards. The book was a New York Times bestseller, and the audiobook version has also garnered high praise from both critics and listeners.

The audiobook was awarded the Earphones Award by AudioFile Magazine, which recognizes outstanding audiobooks that excel in all aspects of production. The narrator, Alex McKenna, was also praised for her exceptional performance, bringing the story to life with her compelling voice and nuanced delivery.

The novel has been described as a “brilliant debut” (The Guardian) and “a masterpiece of literary fiction” (The Independent), with reviewers praising its gripping plot, powerful characterizations, and thought-provoking themes. The book has also been recognized with several notable awards, including the PEN/Hemingway Award and Pacific Northwest Book Award.

“Tallent’s language is clear and precise, with an almost poetic quality to his descriptions of the natural world… A harrowing and beautiful coming-of-age story.”
– Kirkus Reviews

These accolades demonstrate the impact and cultural relevance of “My Absolute Darling,” cementing its place as a modern literary classic.

Listener Feedback and Reviews

Listeners have been captivated by the intense story and powerful themes of “My Absolute Darling,” with many taking to online platforms to share their thoughts and opinions. The audiobook has received an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars on Audible, with numerous reviews praising the writing, narration, and character development.

“This is an amazing book. The characters are so well-drawn, and the story is absorbing and emotional. I couldn’t stop listening!”

Others have noted the book’s intense and graphic content, with some mentioning that it may not be for everyone.

“This is definitely not a book for the faint of heart. The violence and abuse can be tough to listen to, but it’s essential to the story and the growth of the characters.”

Despite this, the overwhelming majority of reviews speak to the raw power and emotional resonance of “My Absolute Darling.”

The Impact of Listener Feedback

The response from listeners underscores the impact that “My Absolute Darling” has had on its audience. The emotional and thought-provoking story has sparked conversations and inspired introspection among readers, highlighting the power of literature to connect with people on a deep and personal level.

Throughout the audiobook, readers are forced to confront difficult truths about abuse, trauma, and the power of survival. By exploring these themes through such compelling characters and a powerful narrative, “My Absolute Darling” has become an important piece of contemporary literature.

Impact and Cultural Relevance

The impact of My Absolute Darling is felt not only in its remarkable narrative but also in its cultural relevance. The story sheds light on important conversations around abuse and survival, as well as the complexities of familial relationships. Its unflinching portrayal of challenging topics is a testament to the power of storytelling in confronting difficult truths.

Since its release, My Absolute Darling has garnered widespread recognition and acclaim. It has been included in several esteemed literary awards, including the longlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and the shortlist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Its impact on the literary world cannot be overstated.

“A brilliant and immersive depiction of a young girl’s resilience when navigating difficult family dynamics, this audiobook is a must-listen for anyone seeking powerful storytelling and thought-provoking social commentary.” – The New York Times Book Review

This audiobook has also had an impact on the wider cultural conversation surrounding abuse and trauma. It encourages listeners to examine their own experiences and compels them to continue to speak out and create change. In many ways, My Absolute Darling serves as a rallying cry for survivors of abuse and advocates for their rights.

Cultural Relevance

The cultural relevance of My Absolute Darling is a reflection of the ongoing importance of nuanced and sensitive storytelling. Through its themes and characters, it contributes to a larger conversation on tough subject matter and encourages empathy and understanding for those who have experienced trauma. Its influence extends beyond the literary world and into the larger cultural landscape.

Awards Year
Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist 2018
Center for Fiction First Novel Prize Shortlist 2017
Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist 2017


In conclusion, this audiobook review of Gabriel Tallent’s “My Absolute Darling” showcases the power of storytelling and the incredible impact it can have on its audience. Through an exploration of the intricate plot, nuanced character portrayals, unique writing style, and thought-provoking themes, we can see how this audiobook rises above its contemporaries.

The audiobook narration adds another layer of immersion, allowing listeners to fully engage with the story. It’s no wonder that “My Absolute Darling” has received critical acclaim and numerous awards. But beyond that, the listener feedback and reviews stand testament to the profound effect it has had on those who have experienced it.

As we reflect on the impact and cultural relevance of “My Absolute Darling,” it is clear that this is an audiobook that will continue to spark important conversations and inspire both reflection and action. We highly recommend it as a must-listen for anyone seeking a deeply moving, thought-provoking, and unforgettable listening experience.

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