King, Stephen: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
(researched by Caetlin McFadden)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description

1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)

Stephen King. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon: A Novel. New York: Scribner, 1999. Copyright 1999 © Stephen King

2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?

The first American edition is published in trade cloth binding.

3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available

4 Pagination

112 leaves, pp. [1-8] 9-17 [18] 19-25 [26] 27-129 [130] 131-149 [150] 151-203 [204] 205-219 [220-222] 223-224

5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?

First edition is neither edited nor introduced. There is a dedication on page 5 to King’s son, Owen. The author’s postscript begins on page 223 where he inserts a disclaimer as to having changed the 1998 Red Socks Schedule. He writes that his version of Tom Gordon is fictional. The postscript ends with a confirmation of the plants called “fiddleheads” and the forest in which the story takes place are both nonfictional.

6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?

There are small, black and white images of wasps on unnumbered p. 3, 7, and 221. They were designed by Erich Hobbing.

7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available

8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)

Page size is 21.3cm x 13.9 cm. Text size is 165mm x 95mm. Readability is wonderful and straightforward. There is hardly any wear on the pages themselves. The chapters are numbered as innings, pregame, and postgame and each header has a black diamond image beneath it. The text is 102R. The text is set in the serif Garamond No. 3 font.

9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available

10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)

The first edition is printed on wove paper that is white, smooth, and has a straight edge. The paper is in excellent condition without any discoloration, tears, or stains.

11 Description of binding(s)

Binding is a medium grey cloth with a medium black spine of calico-texture cloth that is not embossed. There is a single, medium yellow wasp stamp with a gold sheen on the front cloth cover. End papers are light white with no illustrations. No text on the front or back covers. Text on the spine is “STEPHEN KING The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” in a horizontal direction. The Scribner insignia flame and the word “Scribner” are below the title in a vertical direction. All print on the spine is in the same medium yellow color with a gold sheen. The first edition comes with a dust jacket that has an image of a girl running away from something in the woods wearing a Boston Red Sox hat. 

12 Transcription of title page


Verso: SCRIBNER/ 1230 Avenue of the Americas/ New York, NY 10020/ This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents/ either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously./ Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead,/ is entirely coincidental./ The use of the Boston Red Sox logo on the baseball cap which appears on the book jacket/ should not be construed in any way to imply sponsorship or endorsement of this literary/ work by either the Boston Red Sox or by Major League Baseball./ Copyright © 1999 by Stephen King/ All reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole/ or in any form./ SCRIBNER and design are trademarks of Jossey-Bass, INC.,/ used under license by Simon & Schuster, the publisher of this work./ DESIGNED BY ERICH HOBBING/ Text set in Garamond No. 3/ Manufactured in the United States of America/ 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2/ Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available./ ISBN 0-684-86762-1/ Grateful acknowledgment is made to Dennis V. Drinkwater of Giant Glass/ for permission to reprint the Giant Glass commercial jingle./ Lyrics from “Gotta Get Next to You (Jus’ Slip Me a Taste)” by Richie “Records” Tozier,/ copyright © 1998 Soul Fine Music. Used by Permission.

13 JPEG image of title page, if available

14 Manuscript Holdings

The second final draft and the final typescript of the novel are held in the University of Maine's Digital Commons. They are located in box 2296a. The second final draft is item 1 and the final typescript is item 2. 

15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)

The back flyleaf contains an image of Stephen King recreating the Tom Gordon pointing pose with a baseball bat over his shoulder. He also has a Boston Red Sox t-shirt on.

UVA Special Collections call number: Taylor 1999 .K55

Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History

1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A

Yes, there are multiple subsequent editions including a Pocketbook edition, audiobook edition, and a Pop-Up edition aimed towards children. The Pop-Edition (2004), published by Little Simon, a division of Simon & Schuster, seemed to have more advertising than the first edition and was illustrated by Alan Dingman. Since the book is aimed towards children, the story is adapted to a much shorter summary of the events in the full novel. Many of the events are also censored for the sake of the child audience. The pocketbook edition (2000), published by Simon & Schuster, is a paperback edition that is much taller than the original hardcover and includes new cover art. The art consists of a young girl looking into the distance and standing amidst a dark forest with an ominous green sheen. Pocketbooks also published a Braille, Secondary School edition in 2000. Scribner also released an E-book edition in 2001 and an Export edition in 1999. (See item 5 for a complete list of subsequent editions from differing publishers and item 13 for a list of translated works)

London : Little Simon, 2004. Unpaged. (Pop-up Juvenile Edition)

New York, New York : Pocket Books, An Imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc, 2017. ©1999. 309 pages. (Pocket Book Edition)

New York : Scribner, [2001?], ©1999. (E-book)

New York : Pocket, 2000. 264 pages. (Pocket Book Edition)

New York : Pocket Books, 2000, ©1999. 262 page. (Braille Edition- Secondary Senior High School)

New York : Pocket Books, ©1999. 264 pages. (Export Edition)

2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available

3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available

4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?

There were five first edition printings.

5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A

Bath: Paragon, 2000. (Large Print Edition)

London : Hodder, 2011, ©1999. 237 pages.

London : Little Simon, 2004. Unpaged. (Pop-up Juvenile Edition)

London : Hodder Headline, 1999. (Abridged, Cassette Edition)

London : New English Library, 2000. 292 pages.

New York, New York : Pocket Books, An Imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc, 2017. ©1999. 309 pages. (Pocket Book Edition)

New York : Pocket, 2000. 264 pages. (Pocket Book Edition)

New York : Pocket Books, ©1999. 264 pages. (Export Edition)

New York : Pocket Books, 2000, ©1999. 262 page. (Braille Edition- Secondary Senior High School)

New York : Scribner, [2001?], ©1999. (E-book)

Oxford : Macmillan, 2005. 95 pages. (Illustrated Intermediate Edition- Retold by John Escott)

Thorndike, Me : G.K. Hall & Co ; Bath : Chivers, 1999. 261 pages. (Large Print)

6 Last date in print?

Gallery Books has a 2018 reprint edition available on May 15, 2018.

Still in print as of 2017.

7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)

1,075,000 as of the year 2000*

*Note from Publisher's Weekly:

“Rankings are determined by sales figures provided by publishers; the numbers generally reflect reports of copies "shipped and billed" in calendar year 1999 and publishers were instructed to adjust sales figures to include returns through February 15, 2000.”

(Sales figures were submitted to PW in confidence, for use in placing titles on the lists. Numbers shown are rounded down to the nearest 25,000 to indicate relationship to sales figures of other titles.)

(Source: Publisher's Weekly)

8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)

1,800,000 copies in 2000*

*Note from Publisher’s Weekly:

“Listed…are trade paperbacks and mass markets published in 1999 or 2000; the rankings are based on 2000 sales only. To qualify, trade paperback titles had to have sold at least 75,000 copies in 2000; for mass markets, sales of at least 750,000 or more were required.”

(The actual figures were given to PW in confidence for use in placing titles on the lists.)

(Source: Publisher’s Weekly year 2000)

9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)

1,250,000 copies made of first printing with major advertisement and promotion. The novel was a Book of the Month Club pick and Quality Paper Back featured alternate.

Image below is a sample advertisement from The New York Times Book Review

(Source: Publisher’s Weekly)

10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available

11 Other promotion


12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A

A movie was rumored to be in the beginning stages of production but was never created. George Romero was going to be writer and director.

Audio Book edition created by the Royal National Institute of the Blind was released in 2002.

London : Royal National Institute of the Blind, 2002. (Electronic Edition- Read by Laurence Bouvard).

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon was also made into 5 audio cassette tapes narrated by Martha Harmon Pardee. Published in Toronto (CNIB, 2002).

Currently held in Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, NLS/BPH (Denver, Colo. : Talking Book Publishers), 1999.

13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A

[Italian] King, Stephen. La Bambina Che Amava Tom Gordon. Translated by Tullio Dobner, 1st ed., Mondadori, 2000.

[Spanish] King, Stephen. La Chica Que Amaba a Tom Gordon. Translated by Eduardo G Marillo, 1st ed., Debolsillo, 2003.

[German] King, Stephen. Das Mädchen Roman. Translated by Wulf Bergner, 1st ed., München Knaur, 2011.

[French] King, Stephen. La Petite Fille Qui Aimait Tom Gordon. Translated by Lasquin François, 1st ed., Le Grand Livre Du Mois, 2000.

[Polish] King, Stephen. Pokochała Toma Gordona. Translated by Krzysztof Sokołowski, 1st ed., Albatros Publishing House, 1999.

[Dutch] King, Stephen. Het Meisje Dat Hield Van Tom Gordon. Translated by Cherie van Gelder, 1st ed., Luitingh-Sijthoff, 1999.

[Hungarian] King, Stephen. Tom Gordon, segíts! Translated by Bernadett Müller 1st ed., Könyvkiadó, 2000.

[Japanese] King, Stephen. トム・ゴードンに恋した少女 / Tomu gādon Ni Koishita shōjo. Translated by Makiko Ikeda, 1st ed., 新潮社 (Shinchosha), 2002.

[Finnish] King, Stephen. Eksyneiden Jumala. Translated by Ilkka Rekiaro, Tammi, 1999.

[Hebrew] King, Stephen. Ha-Yaldah She-Ahavah Et Ṭom Gordon. Translated by Sharon Mor, Modan, 2000.

[Indonesian] King, Stephen. Gadis Penggemar Tom Gordon. Translated by B Sendra Tanuwidjaja, 1st ed., Gramedia Pustaka Utama, 2000.

[Russian] King, Stephen. Девочка, Которая Любила Тома Гордона. No translator given. Izd-Vo AST, 1999.

[Slovenian] King, Stephen. Deklica, Ki Je oboževala Toma Gordona. Translated by Aleksandra Kocmut, 1st ed., Modrijan, 2010.

[Icelandic] King, Stephen. Stúlkan Sem Elskaði Tom Gordon. Translated by Jónsson Björn, 1st ed., Iðunn, 2000.

[Korean] King, Stephen. 톰고든을사랑한소녀 : 스티븐킹장편소설. Translated by Ki-ch'an Han, 1st ed., Hwanggŭm Kaji, 2006.

[Norwegian] King, Stephen. Piken Som Elsket Tom Gordon. Translated by Kjell Ola Dahl, 1st ed., Aschehoug, 1999.

[Portuguese] King, Stephen. A Rapariga Que Adorava Tom Gordon. Translated by Brito João, 1st ed., Temas e Debates, 2002.

[Czech] King, Stephen. Holčička, která měla ráda Toma Gordona. Translated by Linda Bartošková, 1st ed., Beta-Dobrovský ; Plzeň : Ševčík, 2000.

[Croatian] King, Stephen. Djevojčica koja je obožavala Toma Gordona. Translated by Božica Jakovlev, 1st ed., Algoritam, 2001.

[Turkish] King, Stephen. Tom Gordon'a aşık olan kız. Translated by Baysan Bayar, 1st ed., İnkılap, 2000.

[Danish] King, Stephen. Pigen der elskede Tom Gordon. Translated by Jette Røssell, 1st ed., Den grimme Ælling, 2000.

14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A

The prologue (“Pregame”) was published in the New York Times on April 15, 1999 about a week after the novel was released.

15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A


Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author

1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

Stephen Edwin King was born in Portland, Maine in 1947. King spent his early life living in three different states; Maine, Indiana, and Connecticut. Around the time that King had reached middle school, his mother moved him and his family back to Maine to take care of her ailing parents. He attended high school in Durham and did his undergraduate studies at the University of Maine at Orono. King wrote for the university’s newspaper once a week and majored in English. In 1971, a year after receiving his Bachelor’s degree, he began to teach at the high school level. During this time, King struggled financially. He sold his short stories to magazines to receive a bit of extra funding. He would continue to write his own works in the evenings and over the weekends. In 1973, his first novel Carrie was accepted for publishing under Doubleday & Co. and was released in 1974.

King’s life in the 70s became extremely tormented by his mother’s failing health. He and his family moved to a southern part of Maine to take care of her and King continued to write during this time. This was also the period that King began to have issues with substance abuse. His mother died in 1974 of cancer. After his loss, King and his family moved to Colorado for a short period of time. Between 1975 and 1977, King wrote his novels The Shining and The Stand which were both published and became extremely popular novels. In 1977, King returned to Maine and began teaching at the University of Maine while continuing his authorship of subsequent novels.

Through his upbringing in Maine, Stephen King became a very big Red Sox fan. He occasionally includes references to the team as a whole or its members in his writings. In 1999, he wrote an entire book with famed Red Sox pitcher, Tom Gordon, as a character. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon was another big success for King, reaching the top of the New York Times bestseller list in 1999. King dedicated the novel to his youngest son, Owen, because of their relationship and common love for baseball. His dedication reads “This is for my son Owen, who ended up teaching me a lot more about the game of baseball than I ever taught him.” The novel also includes a real forest located in Maine-New Hampshire that is a branch of the Appalachian Trail. King states in his author’s note that it is a real trail that he has been to before.

Only two months after The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon’s release, King was hit almost fatally by a car while he was out walking. The accident nearly ended King’s writing career because his writing process began to slow and it was physically painful for him to sit in a ‘comfortable’ typing position for prolonged periods of time. After a very long recovery, King did continue writing novels and short stories but at a much slower pace. His most recent novel, Sleeping Beauties, written in companionship with his son, Owen, has already reached the top of the New York Times bestseller list. King is still writing novels today and lives in Bangor, Maine with his family.

Assignment 4: Reception History

1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

After its initial publication in the Spring of 1999, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon rose to the #2 spot on the New York Times Bestsellers list and eventually rose to the #1 spot and remained there for 18 weeks. The contemporary reception history was predominantly positive though it included constructive criticism. There were no major reviews that assailed the novel. As it was on the bestsellers list, The New York Times’ journalist, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, reviewed the novel saying that there were “several satisfying moments of feverish terror.” Lehmann-Haupt seemed surprised by the way King wrote the novel, explaining:

“…What you might expect King to do at this point is to summon up at the very least a homicidal pedophile on the loose or a rabid werewolf running amok to terrorize poor Trisha, who while a gritty young thing and tall for her age is even afraid of the dark…But surprisingly in this story that seems almost to have written itself, King leaves his heavy-breathing monsters mostly out of it and relies on the simple things about being lost in the deep woods.”

Despite its positivity towards the novel, The New York Times also had the most critical review of The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. Later in his writing, Lehmann-Haupt discusses how the reflective style of Trisha’s mother and brother during Trisha’s story is “damaging.” He states that “this information could easily have been conveyed in the context of Trisha's experience…working it in as King has done only dissipates the narrative tension he has built.”

Other contemporary reviews held the novel in very high regards. Library Journal writer, Kristen L. Smith, calls main character Trisha “a near perfect characterization on King’s part.” Multiple reviews discussed how different The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon was compared to his other pieces because it did not involve complex monsters, supernatural entities, or blood chilling characters.

Publisher’s Weekly focused on the theme of God in the novel. All while he is telling the story of a girl lost in the woods, he is questioning other deeper themes that any person would consider when in Trisha’s terrifying situation. Publisher’s Weekly notes:

“King renders the woods as an eerie wonderland, one harboring a something stalking Trisha but also, just perhaps, God: he explicitly explores questions of faith here (as he has before, as in Desperation) but without impeding the rush of the narrative.”

The overall consensus between reviews was that the novel succeeded because of the psychological aspects of King’s writing. The review for The New York Daily News states that, “King 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.” The combination of these elements in King’s writing caused the novel to receive major praise from almost every public review in first five years of publishing.


Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher. “'The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon': A Modern Fairy Tale of the Dark North Woods.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 14 Apr. 1999,

Smith, Kristen L. “Stephen King Pitches a Tale about The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.” Library Journal, vol. 124, no. 20, Dec. 1999.

“The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.”, 5 Apr. 1999,

“The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.” New York Daily News, New York Daily News, 1999,

2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

Quite surprisingly, there are many subsequent reviews of The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon that were published after 2010. Similar to the contemporary reception, the recent reviews have been entirely positive. In 2016, The Guardian reviewed the novel and reflected that it “makes you feel like you are the one in the forest fighting for survival.” Interestingly enough, the review for this novel was published under the “children’s books” header on the Guardian’s website. This was a review for the full novel, not the pop-up edition that was released a few years following the first edition. Another recent review written by Grady Hendrix for classified The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon as a novel for youths, saying, “If King ever wrote a YA novel, it would be The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.” The very young age of the protagonist, the divorce, and the unsettled family relations within the plot contribute to this classification.

In this same review, Hendrix praises The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon for being one of King’s greatest accomplishments, “It’s a still, small marvel of a book, one of King’s most spiritual and most moving, accomplishing a lot of what The Green Mile set out to do only with less plot machinery and visible effort.” In comparison to his other novels, many recent critics have agreed that this novel is more personal because of it’s shorter length and personal, psychological prose. This take completely coincides with the contemporary reception of the book. Despite it’s length being one of the novel’s strengths, Hendrix claims that if the book were to be published today, editors would claim that it was too small. He elaborates:

“…Today an editor would probably insist that Tom Gordon is “too small” and require some kind of high concept twist. I can easily imagine an editor insisting that The God of the Lost and Trisha battle throughout the book, whereas King lets the challenges that face Trisha mostly be mundane…” It’s interesting to note that the public reception from 2010 and onward does not claim that there is any issue with the novel, but rather an issue with the way editors revise drafts. This topic was not brought up once in the contemporary reviews from 1999-2003.

All things considered, the subsequent reception of King’s novel seems to be very similar to the original reaction. Although, the recent reviews and commentary have not been solely focused on the psychological aspects of the story, but rather how relatable it is especially for younger audiences. The novel has aged very well with an initial admiration from adult readers and growing to become a favorite among adolescent fans.


Hendrix, Grady. “The Great Stephen King Reread: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.”, MacMillan, 23 July 2015,

Tessathebooklover. “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King - Review.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 7 Mar. 2016,

Assignment 5: Critical Analysis

1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is a surprisingly short novel for popular horror novelist Stephen King. Upon its initial publishing, the novel was quite a success reaching the top of the New York Times bestseller list within a month of it release, and it remained in that spot for eighteen weeks. The novel was praised for its in depth look at a young girl’s survival and psychological melt down as she braves the wilderness that she finds herself lost within. Certain reviews compared The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon to King’s previous works with similar themes such as family dynamics, insanity, and questions of faith. Throughout reading the work, it becomes difficult not to compare the novel to King’s other works because it has an essentially different tone than the others. There is a recognizable lack of dialogue for the purpose of understanding the main character, Trisha’s, steady decent into madness. This stylistic choice seemed alternative for King, especially when utilized in such a short novel. This could easily be what made the book so successful. It was unconventional Stephen King with fan favorite elements perfectly tied in.

Although, this unfamiliar approach may not have been perfect when truly compared to King’s prior and subsequent works. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon may be an entertaining story of determination in the face of adversity, but it cannot be seen as one of “the King of Horror’s” best novels. Consideration of the author’s popularity at the time of the book’s publication can lead to a conclusion that the sales figures were not caused by the book’s riveting plot but rather by the public’s anticipation of a new novel by their favorite horror novelist.

In 1999, when the novel was released, the last work that King had published was Bag of Bones in 1998. Interestingly enough The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon manuscript was submitted to Scribner by King as he was putting finishing touches on Bag of Bones. Bag of Bones was released first and was received by the public incredibly well. The review for Publisher’s weekly was glowing with praise,

“From his mint-fresh etching of spooky rural Maine to his masterful pacing and deft handling of numerous themes, particularly of the fragility of our constructs about reality and of love's ability to mend rifts in those constructs, this is one of King's most accomplished novels.” (Publishersweekly).

The novel continued to go on to win the Bram Stoker Award for best novel in 1998 and the British Fantasy Award for best novel in 1999 (Wikipedia). With all of this publicity bolstering King’s bestselling author status, his readership has reason to anxiously await his next published work. In 1999, when the novel was published, the reviews were positive, but not as glowing as they were for Bag of Bones. Granted, King admits that he had no intended on writing The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, comparing it to “an unplanned pregnancy” (TOR). Comparing the Publisher’s Weekly review for Bag of Bones to the review for The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, the former receives more attention for originality and detail whereas the predominant opinion on The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon was that “It's classic King, brutal, intensely suspenseful, an exhilarating affirmation of the human spirit.” (PublishersWeekly). This review simply refers to the story as another Stephen King novel. When thoroughly examining the plot and prose, a reader can discern that this story does not stand out amongst the copious amounts of his other works because the story is much too simple.

Upon researching numerous reviews of the novel, many readers boasted about the quality of psychoanalysis that King utilizes throughout the text, but others were not content with the story itself. One reviewer supports the idea that the novel itself was not King’s best, saying

“I did thoroughly enjoy this book…the problem that I had though, is that…nothing really happens. We go through the whole book and about the most interesting thing that happens is when she hallucinates some scary looking priests and falls in her own shit.” (Owlcation).

So much of this novel is following Trisha’s repetitive nine days in the woods as she comes to terms with the possibility of her own death. The novel may have been a bestseller, but it certainly was not because of the quality of the plot.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon centers around a young girl, Trisha McFarland, who becomes lost in the woods while out hiking with her mother and brother. Trisha begins to rely upon her instincts to guide her through the forest while accompanied by an imaginary version of the Red Sox relief pitcher, Tom Gordon. Throughout each chapter, which King labeled as innings, Trisha becomes more hopeless but begins to rely more heavily upon her visions of the all-star pitcher. Each of these moments feels unvarying in the context of the story. Of course, a young girl is going to run into serious issues while attempting to survive in the wilderness, but the prose creates a repetition in each chapter where each event tends to be the same. There would be new obstacles to overcome, such as a wasp’s nest or failure to find a sufficient water supply, but the main themes of each chapter were Trisha’s declining physical and mental health. This threading of events may feel dull, but to specific critics this was the novel’s most glorious aspect. Grady Hendrix for Tor online is one of these individuals who sees the beauty in this type of repetitious writing. He claims that,

“…Today an editor would probably insist that Tom Gordon is “too small” and require some kind of high concept twist. I can easily imagine an editor insisting that The God of the Lost and Trisha battle throughout the book, whereas King lets the challenges that face Trisha mostly be mundane— hunger, thirst, hard walking, cliffs.” (TOR).

Despite Hendrix’s praise for the mundane tasks that Trisha has to complete in order to obtain her eventual freedom, the novel surely does not need a high concept twist, but it definitely needs more than the extensive description of these tasks for two hundred and twenty-four pages. As Edwin suggests, editors may have seen an issue with the novel because there really is not a lot of depth within its pages.

That is not to say that there are not any areas of climatic excitement because there are. These moments last for a page or two and end without any sort of resolution. For example, there is a moment when Trisha witnesses, with the aid of her failing health, three figures. Two were in white cloaks and one in black. The first was identified as “the God of Tom Gordon,” the second, “the Subaudible,” and the third “the God of the Lost.” Each one of these figures has a sort of relation to Trisha. “The Subaudible” is very similar looking to her father and the “the God of Tom Gordon” had a resemblance to the science teacher at her elementary school. The final figure, “the God of the Lost,” is the one that terrifies Trisha the most because of it’s cryptic message about something in the woods following her. (King, 196-198). This ‘something’ hooks the reader into questioning if that will be the classic King moment of impact. Will it be some sort of monster, or will it be a figment of her crazed imagination? What comes of this is a bear that Trisha spooks by mimicking the action of pitching a baseball. The bear is then shot by a hunter and Trisha is saved. There is no explanation of the hooded figures which Trisha refers to as “the priests.” (source). The only reoccurring element is the idea of “the God of the Lost” which Trisha will constantly reference. She questions whether “the God of the Lost” will let her escape the woods or not. The entire theme of these three figures plays into the theme of faith within the novel that was pointed out earlier. Reviews point out similarities between faltering ideas of religion and God within King’s other novels, explaining that, “he (King) explicitly explores questions of faith here (as he has before, as in Desperation) but without impeding the rush of the narrative.” (PublishersWeekly). In another review, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is compared to King’s serial novel The Green Mile, calling it “King’s most spiritual and most moving (novel), accomplishing a lot of what The Green Mile set out to do only with less plot machinery and visible effort.” (TOR). Critics enjoy the subtlety of Trisha’s declining faith but there are times that it is so subtle that it does not move the story along.  Other than the initial meeting with all three ‘priests,’ the plot point is no longer important to the overall storyline of the novel. It is another simple example of Trisha slowly losing her senses.

The argument could easily be made that the entire novel is centered around Trisha’s hallucinations, but the issue at hand is that of the way the novel is set up. Not only is the language very simple in the story’s content, but it could easily have had a much more interesting decay of sanity. The comparison here can be drawn from King’s 1987 novel, Misery. The two tales are wholly different in plot, but both involve a character that is at wit’s end and falling into a maddened sense of self. Paul Sheldon, the main character in Misery, is aware of his decline in sanity, in a similar way that Trisha is slowly becoming aware of hers. Consistently, Trisha mutters self-affirmations about not losing her mind. Paul Sheldon takes a different approach and steadily accepts that his madness is becoming a part of him. The biggest difference between Trisha’s and Paul’s breakdowns are the detail in which King explains them both. In Misery the details are so personal that it feels easy to understand exactly how Paul is thinking and even how he is seeing the world around him. As for Trisha’s situation, it does not feel personal, but a mere afterthought in the story drafting process.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is by no means a difficult read or a “bad” book. It is very much classic Stephen King, as many reviewers have noted. The idea that this novel was a New York Times bestseller does not correlate with the book’s literary merit because it is not that powerful of a novel. King has been hitting the top of the bestseller list as often as Danielle Steele, John Grisham, and James Patterson. The public devours novels by these authors because they are so well known for the quality of most of their works. Even their worst novels end up becoming bestsellers because they are blockbuster novelists in the public eye. This is a phenomenon that has been occurring for a long time. For example, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 did not make it to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, but his subsequent novel Something Happened did reach the top because of Heller’s rising popularity in the literary world. Something Happened was not nearly as grand a novel as Catch-22 but it was more of a bestseller. This same happening occurs with King’s novels. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon may have made it to the top of the New York Times bestsellers list, but that does not mean it got there because it was of great literary substance, or even great entertaining substance. This can be seen as an issue in the publishing world when books are placed on a ranked scale. Once an author becomes extremely popular for one of their works, their subsequent novels will be found on the bestsellers list just because of the name. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is not an anomaly in this sense, it merely fits the mold that has been crafted for it by King’s impressive bibliography of previous bestselling novels.


“The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon Entry.” Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, Buffalo & Erie County,$002f$002fSD_ILS$002f0$002fSD_ILS:1006378/ada.

King, Stephen. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. 1st ed., Scribner, 1999.

Harvey, Elle. “Book Review: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King.”, Owlcation, 8 Apr. 2017,

Collings, Michael R. “Horror Plum'd: An International Stephen King Bibliography and Guide 1960-2000.” Overlook Connection Press, 2002.

“The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon Entry.”, 2000,

Hendrix, Grady. “The Great Stephen King Reread: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.”, MacMillan, 23 July 2015,

“The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.”, 5 Apr. 1999,

“Bag of Bones.”, 31 Aug. 1998,

“New York Times Fiction Bestsellers of 1999.”, Wikimedia,

“Bag of Bones.”, Wikimedia,

Supplemental Material


Gaskell, Philip. “Edition Binding.” A New Introduction to Bibliography, 1972, doi:

Stephen King. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon: A Novel. New York: Scribner, 1999. Copyright 1999 © Stephen King

Loeber, E. G., and E. J. Labarre. Supplement to E.J. Labarre Dictionary and Encyclopaedia of Paper and Paper-Making. Swets & Zeitlinger, 1952.


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