Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon share button
Stephen King
Format Mass Market Paperback
Dimensions 6.80 (w) x 4.24 (h) x 0.74 (d)
Pages 272
Publisher Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Publication Date July 2002
ISBN 9780671042851
Book ISBN 10 0671042858
About Book

Following the enormous critical — Best Books of '98 in Publishers Weekly, San Francisco Chronicle, Denver Post, and others — and commercial success of Bag of Bones, Stephen King's bestselling hardcover novel to date (over 1.6 million shipped), comes a short novel with as much punch as a pinch-hit homerun.

On a six-mile hike on the Maine-New Hampshire branch of the Appalachian Trail, nine-year-old Trisha McFarland quickly tires of the constant bickering between her older brother, Pete, and her recently divorced mother. But when she wanders off by herself, and then tries to catch up by attempting a shortcut, she becomes lost in a wilderness maze full of peril and terror.

As night falls, Trisha has only her ingenuity as a defense against the elements, and only her courage and faith to withstand her mounting fears. For solace she tunes her Walkman to broadcast of Boston Red Sox baseball games and follows the gritty performances of her hero, relief pitcher Tom Gordon. And when her radio's reception begins to fade, Trisha imagines that Tom Gordon is with her--protecting her from an all-to-real enemy who has left a trail of slaughtered animals and mangled trees in the dense, dark woods...


From Barnes & Noble

The Barnes & Noble Review
Stephen King has, in many ways, created the horror genre and claimed the largest stake in it for himself. Lest you believe this is selfishness, I'll assure you: It's through no fault of his own. The guy is just too talented, and in many ways, his fiction has defined popular literature — and culture — for the past 20 years. His novels have been markers along the climb to the 21st century, from Carrie and its "High School Confidential" horrors through The Shining with its nuclear-family nightmare, into his instant classics like Misery and the recent Bag of Bones. His serial novel, The Green Mile, was one of the most absorbing books of the past few years.

Returning to the short form — almost as an intermediate step between Bag of Bones and his next huge novel — King has offered up The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.

First, this is not your typical horror novel — I'd hazard a guess that King himself doesn't see it as a horror story. It has more in common with the fiction of Jack London and Stephen Crane than it does with the fiction of Poe or Stoker. But, of course, London and Crane both wrote about a kind of horror that didn't involve creatures from another planet or from graves. They wrote about the horror of humans, nature, and the ability of human beings to survive against the shadows of "what's out there."

No recounting of the plot will convey what King manages to create in this short novel. A girl of nine accompanies her mother and brother on a brief trip, hiking a small portion of the Appalachian Trail. The girl, Trisha, wanders off the path and manages to get lost. She has some family issues: Mom and Dad have divorced, and her brother is constantly squabbling. But by removing Trisha from the family, by isolating her into the woods, the novel becomes one of human survival.

What begins as a bit of a simple tale — little girl lost — soon turns to the larger questions of what is at the center of creation, what motivates any of us, and the place where darkness and human imagination cross. I resisted this story to some extent, for King is wily. He begins with a soft lull, a bit of a dramatic moment that gets lost quickly in the sweet worry of a young girl who is resourceful enough to pick berries for survival and to do all the right — but ultimately wrong — things in order to find her way back to civilization. But soon, nature itself becomes a force, more often for ill than for good. And as Trisha's imagination begins to re-create the dark forest around her, a slow, sure terror mounts.

This is not a shocker, and no one will stay up till dawn having nightmares over Trisha and the darkness she must face. But The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is a major step forward for King into the realm of fiction that matters, fiction that is about what humans face as one century turns to another: the meaning at the center of existence.

And it's a fun book, too. Let's not forget that beyond being a terrific writer, King is one of the most entertaining storytellers on the planet. His passion for baseball comes through, as does his love for children and the terrors they must face. Get this book. Stay with it. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is the nightmare at the heart of existence; it is the story of those of us who get lost and must face our worst fears.

—Douglas Clegg
Douglas Clegg is the author of numerous horror novels, including Halloween Man and Bad Karma, written under his pseudonym, Andrew Harper. His recent Bram Stoker-nominated short story, "I Am Infinite, I Contain Multitudes," can be found in the anthology The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Volume 11. The world's first e-serial novel, Naomi, will be coming out in May; his next book, The Nightmare Chronicles, will be out in the fall.

USA Today

A delightful read, a literary walk in the woods...[T]he novel is less about baseball than about faith, perseverance and survival.

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt

...[R]eading the novel produces...satisfying moments of feverish terror....As the narrator puts it: "The world had teeth and it could bite you with them anytime it wanted. She knew that now. She was only 9, but she knew it, and she thought she could accept it"....Thanks to Mr. King's gruesome imagination, you as a reader feel the sharpness of those teeth.
The New York Times

Wall Street Journal

Stephen King at his best...a wonderful story of courage, faith and hope...eminently engaging and difficult to put down.

New York Daily News

Stephen King's new novel expertly stirs the major ingredients of the American psyche — our spirituality, fierce love of children, passion for baseball and collective fear of the bad thing we know lurks on the periphery of life.

People Magazine

You may not care about Gordonbut you will about Trisha.


Most of us can remember being lost at least once or twice in our lives. No one ever forgets the sickening feeling that rises from the pit of your stomach when you realize you have wandered off the path. One sunny morning in June, nine-year-old Trisha McFarland falls victim to that feeling when she loses her family on a hiking trail in the Maine woods. With only a sack lunch and her Walkman, Trisha wanders in the forest for nine days in search of the elusive trail. During that time she experiences sickness, injury, and frightening nighttime hallucinations of a lurking beast that may or may not be real. Her only comfort is the tinny sportscast emanating from her Walkman that describes the exploits of her baseball hero, Red Sox relief pitcher Tom Gordon. When Trisha finally confronts her fear, which in typical King style has morphed into a huge bear, she does so by winding up and pitching her Walkman right into the bear's face, just like Tom Gordon. The beast is exorcised, and Trisha is finally rescued by a friendly out-of-season hunter. Few writers can revisit the fears of childhood as well as King, and for most teens these terrors of years so recently lived are especially vivid. While Trisha is younger than some of the teen characters in earlier works, like Christine (Viking, 1984) or Carrie (Doubleday, 1974), the legions of young adult King fans who eagerly await the publication of each new novel will not particularly notice or care. VOYA Codes: 4Q 5P J S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult).

ALAN Review

Here's a fascinating survival story for younger readers. Nine-year-old Trisha McFarland becomes separated from her mother and older teenage brother while hiking along the Appalachian Trail in Maine. Armed with only her lunch, her rain poncho and her Walkman, Trisha wanders throughout the woods, following streams, sinking in swamps, fighting bugs, and scavenging for survival. A devout Boston Red Sox fan, Trisha tunes into games on her Walkman, following especially the movements of her hero, relief pitcher Tom Gordon. Desperate, she hallucinates that Tom Gordon is beside her, talking to her and keeping her alive. If any author can convince readers that a nine-year-old can survive nine days in the wilderness, Stephen King can. Readers will root for Trisha while she cheers on her favorite ball player. This novel is fast-paced and easy to read. Trisha is a brave, strong, spirited young girl whose passionate belief in the world's goodness helps her survive. Genre: Survival Fiction. 1999, Scribner, Ages 14 up, $16.95. Reviewer: Lisa K. Winkler

Library Journal

While hiking a six-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail with her mother and brother, nine-year-old Trisha McFarland steps off the path to relieve herself and then attempts a shortcut to catch up. With this unfortunate decision, she becomes lost and alone in the Maine woods for over a week, with limited food and water and what becomes her prize possession, a personal stereo. Trisha uses the radio to follow the play of her beloved Tom Gordon, relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox--a calming link to the civilized world and one she uses to gather courage and strength for her ordeal. In a near-perfect characterization on King's part, we experience Trisha's fears, hopes, pains, hallucinations, and triumphs through her internal monolog, which is animated in this program by the voice of actress Anne Heche. She flawlessly conveys Trisha's youth and the spectrum of her emotional states. Recommended without reservation.--Kristen L. Smith, Loras Coll. Lib., Dubuque, IA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

School Library Journal

YA-Tired of the continual bickering between her mother and her older brother, nine-year-old Trisha lags behind them on the Appalachian Trail, leaves the path to go to the bathroom, takes a shortcut, and is promptly lost. She follows a stream searching for other people or a road, but unknowingly hikes further and further away from civilization. Her time alone is spent searching for food, mulling over her parents' divorce, and listening to Red Sox games on her Walkman radio. Relief pitcher for the Sox, Tom Gordon, becomes her imaginary companion and provides the comfort she needs to overcome her fears and loneliness so that she can concentrate on staying alive. One feels Trisha's terror as she endures drenching thunderstorms, tromps through mud-sucking swamps, sees gutted deer carcasses, and falls down rocky slopes. Will she survive? Readers aren't sure and the tension builds as hunger and weakness wear her down. Excitement, fear, and anxiety, coupled with vivid descriptions of the Maine-New Hampshire forests alongside the normalcy of listening to play-by-play baseball games, add up to a top-notch read.-Pam Spencer, Young Adult Literature Specialist, Virginia Beach, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Masterful...Trisha is a tough little kid, but is she any match for the monsters of our imagination? Who among us hasn't wandered through the wild without that eerie feeling that someone is watching....King uses that creepy-crawly paranoia to perfection.

Rebecca Ascher-Walsh

...[F]inds its fright factor not in the supernatural but in the demons within....[King is] at his best when he keeps the creepy elements to a minimum and concentrates on his girl-against-nature tale....[The book] isn't going to keep die-hard horror fans up at night, but adventure addicts will find plenty of thrills.
Entertainment Weekly

NY Times Book Review

...[T]he idea of "closing" as a metaphor for conquering demons is a deft addition to King's crowded field.

Charles DeLint

...[S]tands right up there with the best work that King's produced, and that's very fine work indeed.
Fantasy & Science Fiction

From the Publisher

Entertainment Weekly Plenty of thrills...[King's] an elegant writer and a master of pacing.