“If books were babies, I’d call The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon the result of an unplanned pregnancy.”- SK
- Published April 6th, 1999 by Scribner
- Debuted #1 on The New York Times Best Seller List on May 2nd
- In 2004, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon was released as a pop-up book
In under 230 pages, this book doesn’t disappoint at all. In fact, I think that it’s one of his best, top ten material for me. I can’t say enough about this book about a nine-year-old girl getting lost, growing-up and surviving all on her own in the forests and bogs all the while trying to beat the odds as sickness, starvation and the God of the Lost is stalking her along the way.
This is what I would call a “gateway” novel into Stephen King’s Universe for those in the lower teens looking to start reading King’s work.
Why does The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon work…
- TGWLTG works because King takes a small child and thrusts her into a real situation that any kid could find themselves in. And in that real life horror, he makes a hero out of the girl. I love the underdogs and I loved Trisha’s strong bond with her favorite baseball player, Tom Gordon. Had it not been for the thoughts of him (and the visions and interactions with the Red Sox closer) and her Walkman, she would have died for sure. They were lifelines.
- TGWLTG works because it had that “what’s that stalking her in the woods” backdrop. As if her being lost, sick and scared wasn’t enough, King puts in a hidden figure that is watching and keeping pace with the lost girl as she traveled through woods and swamps. I think the thing in the woods kept the novel going to a degree because as a reader you didn’t know what this thing was or what the end game was going to be. All you knew was that the thing in the woods was going to make itself known at some point. And I thought keeping it hidden was a cool idea to build up the anticipation of when it did appear in the final showdown. Sometimes the scariest things are the ones we don’t see.
- TGWLTG works because Stephen King didn’t get himself or the story too bogged down within itself. The book could have really, really been tough to read had he stretched it out into something like 600 plus pages. Hell, who am I kidding. He’d find a way to make it work even if it was a 600 pager, right? But nevertheless, I think the length really helped this book. Perfect marriage between length and story.
- TGWLTG works because it’s so simple. A girl that needs to pee walks off the path and deep enough into the woods where no one could see her. And then she gets turned around and forgets where she came in at. And that’s real. I’ve been lost in the woods before and it’s scary because everything looks the same pretty much. And to a child? I think King was able to take something that could and does happen every day and make it a scary and interesting tale. Simple things can be very frightening.
- TGWLTG works because I have a daughter around this age and as I read it, it made me think of my own child. That’s who I had in mind when I read this novel. What if this was her? Yet again, Stephen King was able to hit home with an emotional connection for his readers; at least with me he did. If you’ve ever been lost then you know how this girl felt and I did. I also felt the pain of the parents trying to find their daughter. I wish that King would have did more on the parents and the thoughts that were running through their heads while Trisha was trying to find her way back out of the woods. I do think that was a missed opportunity. However it didn’t hurt the novel in any way.
All in all, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is a great read and one that I will be revisiting soon I’m sure. It was difficult to put down because you just had to find out what other perils that this young girl was going to have to face and overcome. While I read the book in the comfort of my own home, I too, felt lost with her. That’s why Stephen King is a master craftsman at what he does: He’s able to draw you in and make you feel.
I felt all of Trisha’s fears, her cries, her pain, her sickness and her despair and bouts of happiness as she tried to find her way out of the woods. Trisha McFarland is one of the better literary role models out there.
King in this novel was able to capture what it’s like to be a 9 year old girl being lost in the woods from the perspective of a child. He was able to make us, the reader, feel the totality of her being alone, all alone in a place that looked the same at every turn.
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon gets a save at- 5/5 (Certifiable Classic)