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.
Chilling things pop up in this book by King, who revises his harrowing 1999 novel about a nine-year-old lost in the Maine woods. Due to the format's limited space, the exposition is condensed and rushed: Trisha, the title girl, is on a hike with her recently divorced mom and sullen brother, Pete. While her mother and brother argue, Trisha steps off the trail to relieve herself, and loses her bearings. Beset by bloodthirsty insects (represented on a transparent plastic screen that spins around her face) and menaced by a nameless "special thing that comes for lost kids," Trisha struggles to stay sane and alive. She takes comfort in hallucinations of her hero, Red Sox closing pitcher Tom Gordon, who offers fatherly advice. Like the original, this version follows a baseball structure, from a calm "first inning" to an alarming "top of the ninth" where Trisha faces the supernatural "God of the Lost," a bearlike monster with spiny teeth. King mentions (but the illustrations do not show) things like "the severed head of a deer, terrified eyes wide open" from the original; Dingman creates seven spreads, heavy on the nauseous green and shadowy brown, as Trisha grows increasingly haggard and startling things emerge from trapdoor pages (e.g., a hideous wolfish head or clawed paw appears, then swoops behind a bush). Where the novel built malicious suspense, this production demands that readers lift flaps and peek through transparent windows to heighten the horror. Daring and, ideally, mature King fans will appreciate this scary, perversely funny combo of horror and children's pop-up. Ages 8-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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1 . A Minor Gem
Posted December 26, 2009 by Joseph Duncan , MetropolisAlthough The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is a brief novel in comparison to some of King's other massive tomes, I found myself transfixed from cover to cover. If you have ever been lost in the woods, you will understand the helpless fear that comes from being alone, unprotected and at the mercy of the wilderness and the elements. The monster (if that's what it really is) who stalks our resourceful young heroine through the shadowy forest is both enigmatic and terrible. Overall, a very compelling read and good for more than a few shudders and gasps.
January 31, 2000
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Excerpt from The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
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 got lost in the woods they got seriously hurt. Sometimes they died.
All because I needed to pee, she thought...except she hadn't needed to pee all that badly, and in any case she could have asked Mom and Pete to wait up the trail a minute while she went behind a tree. They were fighting again, gosh what a surprise that was, and that was why she had dropped behind a little bit, and without saying anything. That was why she had stepped off the trail and behind a high stand of bushes. She needed a breather, simple as that. She was tired of listening to them argue, tired of trying to sound bright and cheerful, close to screaming at her mother, Let him go, then! If he wants to go back to Malden and live with Dad so much, why don't you just let him? I'd drive him myself if I had a license, just to get some peace and quiet around here! And what then? What would her mother say then? What kind of look would come over her face? And Pete. He was older, almost fourteen, and not stupid, so why didn't he know better? Why couldn't he just give it a rest? Cut the crap was what she wanted to say to him (to both of them, really), just cut the crap.
The divorce had happened a year ago, and their mother had gotten custody. Pete had protested the move from suburban Boston to southern Maine bitterly and at length. Part of it really was wanting to be with Dad, and that was the lever he always used on Mom (he understood with some unerring instinct that it was the one he could plant the deepest and pull on the hardest), but Trisha knew it wasn't the only reason, or even the biggest one. The real reason Pete wanted out was that he hated Sanford Middle School.
In Malden he'd had it pretty well whipped. He'd run the computer club like it was his own private kingdom; he'd had friends -- nerds, yeah, but they went around in a group and the bad kids didn't pick on them. At Sanford Middle there was no computer club and he'd only made a single friend, Eddie Rayburn. Then in January Eddie moved away, also the victim of a parental breakup. That made Pete a loner, anyone's game. Worse, a lot of kids laughed at him. He had picked up a nickname which he hated: Pete's CompuWorld.
On most of the weekends when she and Pete didn't go down to Malden to be with their father, their mother took them on outings. She was grimly dedicated to these, and although Trisha wished with all her heart that Mom would stop -- it was on the outings that the worst fights happened -- she knew that wasn't going to happen. Quilla Andersen (she had taken back her maiden name and you could bet Pete hated that, too) had the courage of her convictions. Once, while staying at the Malden house with Dad, Trisha had heard their father talking to his own Dad on the phone. "If Quilla had been at Little Big Horn, the Indians would have lost," he said, and although Trisha didn't like it when Dad said stuff like that about Mom -- it seemed babyish as well as disloyal -- she couldn't deny that there was a nugget of truth in that particular observation.