cover image My Absolute Darling

My Absolute Darling

Gabriel Tallent, read by Alex McKenna. Penguin Audio, , unabridged, 13 CDs, 16 hrs., $50 ISBN 978-0-525-49790-5

Voice-over actor McKenna delivers a chilling rendering of Tallent’s debut novel, which depicts the horrific abuse and neglect of a preteen girl on the rugged Northern California coast. McKenna masterfully inhabits the inner monologue of young Julia “Turtle” Alveston with a husky, quivering voice that manages to portray both self-loathing pain and steely determination. McKenna switches between the male and female characters with ease, most notably in the interactions between Turtle and her abusive father, Martin. McKenna captures equal parts regret and concern in giving voice to Turtle’s gruff, alcoholic paternal grandfather. She also shines in her delivery of Turtle’s love interest Jacob, a boy from a wealthy family whose precocious intellect parallels Turtle’s own sense of being different from her peers. McKenna portrays the conversations between these young characters as natural and plausible. McKenna deepens the story with spot-on vocal renderings of the protagonist and her peers; both Turtle and Jacob sound simultaneously young and advanced for their age. A Riverhead hardcover. (Aug.)