It’s hard to describe Gabriel Tallent’s debut novel My Absolute Darling without using a ton of “buts” and “ands.”

It’s a breathtaking debut novel, but it’s absolutely brutal and one of the most painful stories you’ll read this year. But despite that, it’s almost impossible to put down once you’ve started reading.

SEE ALSO: Your reading list just got longer—the 2017 National Book Awards longlist is here

My Absolute Darling follows Turtle Alveston, a 14-year-old girl living in the woods of North California with her father Martin. Turtle is strong and adventurous, and though she has free reign of the forest around her, her world is largely one of isolation. Turtle’s mother is dead, her grandfather is a drunk, and she pushes away any and all attempts at friendship at school. …

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