Review: The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker

51lu7ktla1l_sl500_aa240_Truly Plaice is a big girl.  So big, in fact, that her poor mother dies in childbirth and her father blames his daughter, and the doctor, for her death.  Unequipped to raise Truly and her sister Serena Jane on his own, they are neglected and pushed off onto other people while dad grapples with his own despair. 

 After their father dies, the girls are separated.  Serena Jane, the epitome of feminine beauty and Truly’s polar opposite, is raised by the small town’s preacher and his wife as their pretty pretty princess.  Truly packs up and heads straight from the cemetery to the home of a poor family with a near-mute daughter and spends her childhood in overalls tending for horses and working on the farm.  The girls see each other weekly and go to the same school but have less and less in common. 

Truly grows, and doesn’t stop growing, due to a medical abnormality.  She sees a doctor only once during her childhood- the doctor is hated by her father, and after his death there is no money for doctors.  We don’t learn much about Truly’s condition, in fact the subject is brought up early on (pg. 58) and then basically dropped until the end of the book.

Physically, Truly is hard to overlook.  She stands out in her tiny community due to her size and is tormented not only by mean kids but by adults too.  Even her teacher in the one room schoolhouse she attends from kindergarten through graduation can’t hide her feelings of revulsion.  Truly can barely squeeze her thighs under the school desk and her heft is cause for embarrassment time and time again.  

Truly’s bulk becomes a barrier in her relationship with others.  Her damaged self esteem prevents her from recognizing when people really care about her.  Marcus, an undersized boy at school, has always been kind to her and has feelings for her but she doesn’t take him seriously. 

Serena’s beauty turns out to be a blessing and a curse.  She marries the future Dr. Robert Morgan after high school and has a son, but dreams of a larger existence and soon leaves everything behind.  Truly steps in to care for Serena’s son and husband and becomes an object of curiousity for the doctor.  Family secrets are discovered in the doctor’s home and Truly finds a way to change her fate and that of of the people around her.  There is a dark side to this book but it isn’t explored in great detail.  

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County is a good read.  There’s a lot to like about this book with its unique, complex characters and a bit of magical realism.  I didn’t get my hoped-for ending in it’s entirety, but what I did get was satisfying.  If everything had come together I might have stated it was all wrapped up too perfectly, so I’m ok with a few loose ends.  It’s a well written debut novel by a talented new writer, and I’d highly recommend it.  

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County will be in stores in January.  You can check out the author’s website HERE.  Many thanks to Miriam at Hachette Book Group for sending me this ARC for review.

The Sunday Salon

img_11561Ahhh, Sunday, the one day all week we don’t have to race around to be anywhere.  Unless, of course, the church bully comes downstairs and asks, “Are we going to church?” in his accusatory “You’re all heathens!” tone, and if I say I don’t feel like it, he’ll be mad at me all morning.  

It’s weird how my husband has turned into this church guy.  He wasn’t like that the first decade we were together.  The only time I ever saw him inside a church was for a wedding or a funeral.  But now that we are PARENTS, and we have to set an EXAMPLE, he is the church bully.  If I had my way, we’d go maybe once a month.  If he had his way, we’d go twice a week.  So we end up going about 3 Sundays out of 4, and the other Sunday, he’s mad at me.  I always tell him that no one is preventing him from going by himself!

img_1101Anyway!  My daughter turned 11 this week, and we caved and got her a cell phone, so she is no longer the last girl on earth without one, and she’s pretty darn happy about it.  I’m sure the novelty will wear off eventually.  I actually like the convenience of being able to get ahold of her when she’s at a friend’s house or she’s walking home from school.  She had a laser tag party with her friends last weekend, and then we celebrated on her actual birthday by having dinner at a place of her choosing (within reason, of course!).  She picked Olive Garden, because she really loves the fact that they bring basket after basket of steaming hot breadsticks.  “They just keep on coming, Mom!”  Yes they do, dear (oink, oink).  

We watched history being made Tuesday night as Barack Obama addressed a throng of supporters with his Yes, We Can acceptance speech.  My parents were here and my mother, a staunch Republican, said to no one in particular, “Well, I hope you people are happy!”  Thanks, Mom, we are!  My husband and I are Republicans who didn’t care for McCain at all, and thought he made a ridiculous choice in Palin, and who got very fed up with Dubyah, so we jumped ship.  If the Republicans could have given us a decent candidate, things might have been different.

Yesterday my daughters’ Girl Scout troops placed flags on the graves of veterans at Forest Lawn.  Many thanks to all the Veterans out there.  We are grateful and proud of you.

image003This week I read Kandide and the Secret of the Mists aloud to my kids for my book club meeting this afternoon.  Yes, it’s a children’s book for an ADULT book club, but our hostess is friends with the author so she will be attending our meeting.  The kids are coming too- should be interesting.  They’ve been very curious about what we do at book club (drink lots of wine and laugh and talk about books- so mysterious!) so now they’ll get to see for themselves.

I also read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, my book club pick for December, and have no idea how I’m going to review it without giving it away.  Maybe I’ll just put up a Publishers Weekly blurb and then insist that everyone go read it!  It was freaky and powerful.  I’ll have to read more Ishiguro (any suggestions?  The Remains of the Day?)  I read about 80 pages of The Zookeeper’s Wife, sent by WW Norton books for review.  They sent me two copies, so I’ll be giving one away soon.  However I don’t know when I’ll finish it.  It reads like a textbook and I was having a hard time with it, so I put it aside temporarily and started The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by TIffany Baker.  This one’s an ARC sent by Hachette that will be out in January.  It’s a debut novel, which is hard to believe because it is so well written.  So far I love it and I’m flying through it.  It has really well developed, quirky characters.  Also this week I finished scheduling for this virtual book tour and began scheduling for this one.  I’m looking for tour hosts, so let me know if it sounds interesting!

How was your week?  What are you reading?

Tuesday Teasers

tuesday-tMiz B and Teaser Tuesdays asks you to:

Grab your current read.  Let the book fall open to a random page.  Share with us two (2) sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.

You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
51lu7ktla1l_sl500_aa240_The Tuesday Teaser “rules” say to grab your current read, but mine is in the car just now, so this teaser comes from the closest book at hand at the moment.  You’ll find this line on page 61 of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, a debut novel by Tiffany Baker that will be coming out in January 2009.  I received this ARC just yesterday from the wonderfully generous Miriam at Hachette Book Group (thanks, Miriam!)  I haven’t started it yet, but I am really looking forward to it!
“I sat on my bed, elbows planted on knees, and faced the mirror that was glued to the back of the door.  Already, I almost filled the whole narrow span of it, edge to edge, my body lumpier than any monster I could imagine.”

What are you reading this week?