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6 March 2014

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
Stephen King
Publication Date
06 April 1999
Psychological Horror, Adventure

Ever got lost in the woods? And that's only the start.

9 year old Trisha McFarland goes with her mum and brother on a hiking trip. She needs to pee and leaves the main path, and instead of walking back to the main path,  decides to walk ahead to meet up ahead. Surely not a problem, this is a public hiking trail and she can still hear their voices. Few more steps, not more than 50 surely, but now she can't hear their voices any more. She tries to find the path, but everything looks the same, even when trying to turn back, and eventually she has to admit to herself that she is lost. While her mother informs the police and a search for her starts, Trisha inadvertently goes deeper and deeper into the huge Maine forest. All she has in her rucksack is some sweets, a bottle of water, a sandwich and her walkman. She desperately tries to listen on the radio for news of her search and listens out for her favourite baseball hero, Tom Gordon. Trisha walks deeper and by following a small river which she thinks should lead her to some houses, she ends up in a swamp. The mosquitos and wild animals are only the beginning of her nightmare. And as, after several days, thirst, hunger and illness start to set it, Trisha starts hallucinating and is fighting for survival with the help of Tom Gordon.

I've read this book some time ago whilst living in Germany, translated into German. The German title actually is 'Das Maedchen' which translates as 'The Girl' - so the Tom Gordon bit was dropped in Germany, maybe reflecting the fact that the sports star is not so well known in Germany. So, let me tell you straight out - I don't know anything about baseball nor Tom Gordon, but still enjoyed this book enormously. No-one IMHO can create tension, terror and desperation in the fight for survival like King. And I'm not talking about survival in the war-like sense. Everyday situations - what to eat, drink, how to shelter from the water, animals, how to cross a swamp (yeah, ok, maybe not every day on that one) and most importantly, how to overcome your own fear. 

As with every King book, there are always little snippets which feature regularly in his stories. Here I found an old favourite - poison ivy. Trisha's mum tells her how girls pee properly in the woods - most important thing is to watch out that you don't place your bare backside on poison ivy. Nothing major or story changing, but I just love how you can find certain details again and again in his stories. I know there are probably many more details which can be cross-referenced to other books. I'm sure a proper SK buff would probably find them all, but I was just glad find an old friend: 'Ah, poison ivy again!'

Another thing this book did was that now I am even more determined to see Maine.Odd? Yes, it should be the opposite after Trisha's terror, but I just ache to see the magnificent forests of Maine. One day, one day I will make it over there.