The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
by Stephen King
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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.
In King's revealing Amazon.com interview, he said the one book he wishes he'd written was
Lord of the
Flies. When Trisha confronts a vision of buzzing horror in the middle of the woods, King creates his strongest echo yet of the central passage of Golding's novel.
On The Flap
"What if the woods were full of them? And of
course they were, the woods were full of everything you didn't like,
everything you were afraid of and instinctively loathed, everything that
tried to overwhelm you with nasty, no-brain panic."
The brochure promised a "moderate-to-difficult"
six-mile hike on the Maine-New Hampshire branch of the Appalachian Trail,
where nine-year-old Trisha McFarland was to spend Saturday with her older
brother, Pete, and her recently divorced mother. When she wanders
off to escape their constant bickering, then tries to catch up by
attempting a shortcut through the woods, Trisha strays deeper into a
wilderness full of peril and terror. Especially when night falls.
Trisha has only her wits for navigation, only her
ingenuity as a defense against the elements, only her courage and faith to
withstand her mounting fear. For solace she tunes her Walkman to
broadcasts of Boston Red Sox games and the gritty performances of her
hero, number 36, relief pitcher Tom Gordon. And when her radio's
reception begins to fade, Trisha imagines that Tom Gordon is with her--her
key to surviving an enemy known only by the slaughtered animals and
mangled trees in its wake.
A classic story that engages our emotions at the most
primal level, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon explores our deep dread
of the unknown and the extent to which faith can conquer it. It is a
fairy tale grimmer than Grimm, but aglow with a girl's indomitable spirit.
On The Back
"The world had teeth and it could bite you with them
anytime it wanted. Trisha McFarland discovered this when she was
nine years old. At ten o'clock on a morning in early June she was
sitting in the back seat of her mother's Dodge Caravan, wearing her blue
Red Sox batting practice jersey (the one with 36 GORDON on the back) and
playing with Mona, her doll. At ten thirty she was lost in the
woods. By eleven she was trying not to be terrified, trying not to let
herself think, This is serious, this is very serious. Trying
not to think that sometimes when people get lost in the woods they get
seriously hurt. Sometimes they died."
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