Woodsy creepiness at its best.
Genre: Horror, Thriller
No. of pages: 264
Trisha McFarland is a plucky 9-year-old hiking with her brother and mom, who is grimly determined to give the kids a good time on their weekends together. Trisha’s mom is recently divorced, and her brother is feuding with her for moving from Boston to small-town Maine, where classmates razz him. Trisha steps off the trail for a pee and a respite from the bickering. And gets lost.
Trisha’s odyssey succeeds on several levels. King renders her consciousness of increasing peril beautifully, from the “first minnowy flutter of disquiet” in her guts to her into-the-wild tumbles to her descent into hallucinations, the nicest being her beloved Red Sox baseball pitcher Tom Gordon, whose exploits she listens to on her Walkman. The nature writing is accurate, tense, and sometimes lyrical, from the maddening whine of the no-see-um mosquito to the profound obbligato of the “Subaudible” (Trisha’s dad’s term for nature’s intimations of God). Our identification with Trisha deepens as we learn about her loved ones: Dad, a dreamboat whose beer habit could sink him; loving but stubborn Mom; Trisha’s best pal, Pepsi Robichaud, vividly evoked by her colorful sayings (“Don’t go all GIRLY on me, McFarland!”). The personal associations triggered by a full moon, the running monologue with which she stays sane–we who have been lost in woods will recognize these things.
I’m getting back to my roots – back in Junior High I took interest in reading through Stephen King, Isaac Asimov and Dean Koontz. Since graduating I have read little of their titles since, so am currently attacking King’s back catalogue – maybe to recapture my youth, but definitely reliving the fun I had when reading. ‘The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon’ was a great addition to my collection and a welcome distraction to many of the YA titles I’ve been reading of late.
I really liked the play of perception and the POV of Trisha (Patricia) our protagonist, lending the interpretation of the story open to the reader to draw her or his own conclusions.
Trisha has an indomitable spirit. I was really cheering for her and amazed at how she faced each challenge.
Tom Gordon, the form of Trisha’s guardian angel, or inner strength was a great symbol to focus on. Though some of the baseball jargon got a little tiresome for me because I loath baseball – it’s not really a big thing here in Australia – I appreciated it for what it was. A distraction and a coping mechanism to get Trisha from point A to point B.
Our antagonist could fall under many forms – nature, fear fuelled imagination, her family; and I loved how it morphed from one to the other, never leaving you certain of anything.
It took half the book to wind up and get interesting. I find every now and then Stephen Kings’s books do get a bit waffly in setting up the story and exploring the casts back stories. I know it is to get us to care about the characters and offer some perspective, but sometimes it feels a little long winded.
‘The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon’ had the right amount of suspense and hair-raising creepiness. The second half of the novel was absolutely brilliant and I could not put it down.
I enjoyed this a lot more than many other of Kings titles, because it was based on character development and an inner struggle rather than gory monsters and demons (though this could be argued). It was a psychological thriller instead of horror, and appealed to my survival instincts. I have found myself lost in the bush many times, having to trek a day or so to safety. It was so vivid, and the descriptions of the landscape – mysterious and beautiful at the same time. Nature can be astoundingly picturesque and the face of death at the same time.
A great read that induces chills and makes you want to pull your feet up off the floor, with the hint of the disgusting and the unknown. Totally recommending this to all my friends who like a scare, but don’t want to feel like tossing up their dinner from gore.
Overall feeling: wickedly chilling
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