Last week, it got to Saturday and I realised with a sudden burst of horror that I hadn’t read a book this week. So naturally, I grabbed something from my bookshelf that had been hanging around unread for an age because it was fairly short, and read it within a day (accidentally staying up until three in the morning!).
And that’s how I came to read “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” by Stephen King.
My relationship with King’s works can be best described as “rocky”. My first exposure was through “Four past Midnight”, a collection of his novellas, which I picked up because I’d seen the movie “Secret Window” and wanted to read the book. Sadly, I was scuppered by “The Langoliers”: the sheer number of characters in the cast meant that I lost track of who was who very quickly. I concluded that his books weren’t for me and gave up.
Since then, though, I was asked to read King’s “On Writing” for my BA in first year and discovered that King writes two kinds of books: stories with big casts that look outward, and more in-depth psychological stories with smaller casts. I therefore gave him another chance and picked up “Carrie” sometime between 2012 and 2013 and found that I do like King’s style. With that in mind, “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” is probably the most ideal of his books for me.
The majority of the story stays with Trisha, the titular Tom Gordon lover and nine-year-old girl who wanders off the trail during a hiking trip and becomes hopelessly lost in the wilderness alone.
As time passes and salvation becomes less and less likely, she starts to feel that there’s something in the woods coming after her that wants her dead.
This is definitely one of King’s books that looks inwards. Apart from a few forays to Trisha’s worried family, we stay with her. And as a reader, this was incredibly appealing to me. That combined with the slight uncertainty as to whether there’s a supernatural element going on and the sheer tension that King weaves into the narrative was enough to keep me turning the pages.
I will admit that, as a Brit, almost every single bit of the baseball talk went whistling over my head, but I still understood enough to get the gist of why it mattered to Trisha and to enjoy the story.
As for a writing perspective, that is naturally excellent, King being a master of the craft even back in the 90s. I was especially impressed that he managed to maintain a young perspective while still conveying the intense, nightmarish reality of the situation that this child is in and keeping the interest of an adult audience.
If the idea of a child becoming lost in the wilderness and desperately struggling to survive doesn’t scare you, you might be a robot. Like horror? Haven’t tried this book yet? Pick it up. You won’t regret giving it a chance.
Collab: Personal is Political