The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon is a relatively short novel by the master of horror, Stephen King. The story is legitimately suspense-filled and scary, but not due to any monsters (though, in true Stephen King style, there may be a monster involved). The creepy factor comes in to effect because of the very real possibility of the sequence of events that happens.
Tom Gordon is about a nine-year-old girl named Trisha McFarland. Her family is going through the great American crisis of post-divorce living. Every weekend that she and her brother stay with their mother, she takes them on some sort of educational adventure. For this particular weekend, she takes Trisha and her brother on a hike in the Maine wilderness. While her mother and brother are arguing, nature calls and Trisha takes a detour into the woods, thinking that she can just run and meet back up with her family. She reasons that they wouldn’t even know she was gone because they are so entrenched in their spat.
Unfortunately, Trisha gets turned around, and armed only with a small amount of day-hiking provisions (and no bug spray), she becomes completely and utterly lost in the vast forest. Over several days, she faces the many foes of the forest, from bugs, to dirty water, to rainstorms, and more. And of course, it wouldn’t be a true Stephen King story, if there weren’t an added bonus of something possibly monstrous following Trisha.
The horror aspect of this novel is more psychological than overt. Does the monster in the forest exist? Does it even matter if it does? The perils of the forest itself could kill Trisha just as easily.
The only thing that this book has going against it is Trisha as a nine-year-old. Sometimes, her knowledge of the forest can be a bit too advanced for her age, rivaling and defeating my own knowledge (which is decently significant since I grew up in the middle of the woods and even took a wilderness survival class as a kid). Her inner fantasies that she concocts about meeting Baseball player Tom Gordon are pretty spot on with my own elaborate childhood fantasies.