The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
Author: Stephen King
Prior to starting The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, I knew three people who had tried to read this book and gave up before finishing it. My wife, my best buddy and I had all picked it up at different times and quit after losing interest. The fact that it’s not a particularly long book and that I rarely quit a book without finishing it (rarely as in 0 out of the last 150+ books I’ve started have I abandoned before finishing) had me dreading getting back into this. Since I’m currently trying to read all of Stephen King’s books and it had been a few years since I’d picked this one up, I decided to give it another shot and plow through.
The story here is very simple. A nine year old girl named Trisha wanders off the path in the forest while her mom and brother have an argument and ends up lost. The rest of the book is her wandering deeper into the woods, trying to find her way out while surviving the elements and nearly starving to death. The title of the book is a reference to the Boston Red Sox closer of the era, Tom Gordon who is the little girl’s favorite player. In addition to a sandwich and some celery, she has a portable radio that allows her to listen to the Sox play almost every day.
If you’ve read a lot of Stephen King, this book feels VERY familiar. I was reminded frequently of Gerald’s Game. In that book, a woman is tied to her bed in the middle of nowhere for the entire book and worries about starving, dehydration, and dying before she can be found. Her mind wanders and she has conversations with herself. She’s visited by a figure that could be death, could be her imagination, or there could be a natural explanation for it. All of that happens in this book as well, but instead of being stuck in one place the protagonist can move around.
I ended up liking this book better than Gerald’s Game but I suspect that won’t be true for all readers. For me, I got a kick out of reading about Tom Gordon, Bernie Williams, Nomar Garciaparra and others as they were viewed in 1998. That was one of the best baseball seasons of all time, so just visiting it in my memory was great any time Trisha turned on her radio. In addition, having Trisha do some fun survival activities like fishing and foraging was more entertaining than having the protagonist of Gerald’s Game relive flashbacks of being molested.
I can see why this book was easy to walk away from as there’s not a lot of drama or plot throughout the book. If I’d set this book down for a few days and tried to come back to it, there was nothing that was really making me think about the book when I stepped away from it. But reading it straight through over a few days helped immerse me in the world with Trisha of wandering around and thinking about baseball, and that ended up being OK with me.