Literature: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
A 1999 novel by Stephen King
goes on a nature hike on a stretch of the Appalachian Trail
with her mother and teenage brother. She demonstrates her lack of awareness
that she is a character in a Stephen King
novel as she ducks quickly off the path to take a bathroom break, takes what she thinks is a shortcut to catch up with her family and ends up, well, a little bit lost.
Let the horrors begin.
A film adaptation directed by George Romero was planned but is stuck in Development Hell
. Also of note is an illustrated pop-up book version of the story released in 2004.
This novel contains examples of:
- Adult Fear: This is King in 'horror is what could actually happen' mode. The book occasionally takes short breaks from Trish's ongoing nightmare to see how her parents and brother are dealing with theirs.
- Alcoholic Parent: Trisha's father possibly drinks more than he should. A nightmare she has one night in the woods indicates her subconscious feelings about this.
- All Myths Are True: Assuming that Trisha wasn't just hallucinating, she meets representatives of three conceptions of god— The God of Tom Gordon, who is powerful but aloof, the Subaudible, her father's Spinoza-esque mindless benevolent force, and the God of the Lost, the savage personification of bad luck and nature.
- Bambification: Trisha is awed and moved when she comes up close and personal with a doe and her two fawns in a clearing. Justified in that she is nine years old and has not yet lost her sense of childlike wonder.
- Baseball: Trisha's favourite sport and listening to a game on her Walkman helps her keep her sanity.
- Bears Are Bad News: The story is set in the Appalachian woods.
- Break the Cutie: Kind of the entire point...
- Bug Buzz: Bugs are a running theme. The flies around the dead deer, crickets, wasps...
- Celebrity Crush: Trisha has a crush on Tom Gordon, though she doesn't admit it to anyone, and says that she only likes him because he's a good baseball player.
- Cool Clear Water: Subverted; Trisha drinks some Cool Clear Water when she runs out of her bottled water. It causes a severe bout of vomiting and diarrhea, although she luckily manages to get over it relatively quickly. Less fortunately, that appears to be because it weakened her system enough that she got a worse illness, and her body just gave up on purging the toxins..
- Daddy's Girl: Trisha.
- Don't Go in the Woods
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Fangirl: Trisha is one to her favorite baseball player, Tom Gordon.
- Gosh Hornet: She gets stung all over by some evil Wasps
- Hearing Voices: The Insanity Berry flavour.
- Heroic BSOD: But she recovers. Kids are resilient that way.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane
- Nature Is Not Nice: The only real enemy Trisha faces is the cruelty of nature. Or it could be an evil forest spirit.
- Nerd: Trisha's brother, Peter. In a subversion of the usual trope, he was reasonably popular at his old school. Not so much at his new one.
- Nobody Poops: Averted. Particularly after a very dehydrated Trisha gorges herself after she finally discovers a stream.
- The Noun Who Verbed: The title.
- Precision F-Strike: Early on Trisha's circumstances get so dire that she drops what she calls "the F word" for the first time in her life.
- Sex with the Ex: Occurs between Trisha's parents when they seek comfort in one another while she's missing. The end of the novel implies that a reconciliation may be in the cards.
- Stay on the Path: Trisha did not, unfortunately.
- Swamps Are Evil: Making her way through one swamp leaves Trisha so traumatized that when she stumbles across another she can't face the prospect and turns back, not realizing that beyond the second swamp lies safety.
- Tantrum Throwing: Trisha's initial reaction when she realizes just how dire her situation is. Justified in that she's nine years old, terrified and alone.
- Through the Eyes of Madness: The creature that stalks Trisha, and eventually confronts her at the book's climax: is it just a black bear, distorted by her fear and her fever-induced hallucinations? Or is it really the supernatural horror, the "God of the Lost" she imagined it to be as it stalked her, and during her mental duel with it? Just to toy with you, the novel has someone else witness it who seems to provide the objective truth of it being a black bear... then it turns out he thought it was something else for a moment, too, and he's a drunk and no more reliable.
- Wild Wilderness: The setting for the story.
- The Worm That Walks: The herald of the God of the Lost, composed of innumerable yellow insects endlessly crawling over a yellowing, decayed human skeleton.