Friday, December 19, 2008

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker

When Truly Plaice's mother was pregnant, the town of Aberdeen joined together in betting how recordbreakingly huge the baby boy would ultimately be. The girl who proved to be Truly paid the price of her enormity; her father blamed her for her mother's death in childbirth, and was totally ill equipped to raise either this giant child or her polar opposite sister Serena Jane, the epitome of feminine perfection. When he, too, relinquished his increasingly tenuous grip on life, Truly and Serena Jane are separated--Serena Jane to live a life of privilege as the future May Queen and Truly to live on the outskirts of town on the farm of the town Sadsack, the subject of constant abuse and humiliation at the hands of her peers.

Serena Jane's beauty proves to be her greatest blessing and her biggest curse, for it makes her the obsession of classmate Bob Bob Morgan, the youngest in a line of Robert Morgans who have been doctors in Aberdeen for generations. Though they have long been the pillars of the community, the earliest Robert Morgan married the town witch, Tabitha Dyerson, and the location of her fabled shadow book--containing mysterious secrets for healing and darker powers--has been the subject of town gossip ever since. Bob Bob Morgan, one of Truly's biggest tormentors, does the unthinkable to claim the prize of Serena Jane, and changes the destiny of all Aberdeen from there on.

When Serena Jane flees town and a loveless marriage to Bob Bob, it is Truly who must become the woman of a house that she did not choose and mother to her eight-year-old nephew Bobbie. Truly's brother-in-law is relentless and brutal; he criticizes her physique and the limitations of her health as a result, and degrades her more than any one human could bear. It is only when Truly finds her calling--the ability to heal illness with herbs and naturopathic techniques--hidden within the folds of Robert Morgan's family quilt, that she begins to regain control over her life and herself. Unearthed family secrets, however, will lead to the kind of betrayal that eventually break the Morgan family apart forever, but Truly's reckoning with her own demons allows for both an uprooting of Aberdeen County, and the possibility of love in unexpected places.

My Review:
I enjoyed reading this book; it's well written. The story moves at a reasonable pace, and the characters are unique. There's Truly, the giant, who grows up believing that she killed her mother (who died while birthing her), and believing that she is unworthy of any kindness. Her best friend is Amelia Dyerson, a shy girl who manages to communicate without many spoken words. (How challenging that must have been to write!) Next is Dr. Robert Morgan, the fifth Dr. Robert Morgan the small town has had--each one of them arrogant and mean-spirited. Then there's Marcus Thompson, a man with a brilliant mind, but a smallish, somewhat handicapped body. These are round characters, all with secrets and flaws. Even the minor characters are well written!

As the only "pretty" character is Dr. Morgan, one of the themes is that beauty is only skin deep. How much more difficult life is for the imperfect person.

The novel is written in first-person narrative and third-person omniscient voice, allowing the reader to understand the different thought processes. There's a bit of profanity included. There's a bit of a romance. (It could have been left out.) There's more than a bit of mystery. And there's a tale that demands deeper thought once the final page has been turned.


Anonymous said...

I'm hoping to get this one - thanks for the review.

dawn said...

I'm looking forward to reading *Little Giant* ... sometime, somehow ...

Nice review, Sally!

Sandra said...

I just skimmed your review as I don't like to know anything about a story before I read it. But I'm glad you liked it and when I get a copy, I will come back and let you know what I thought too.

Elizabeth said...

I think this sounds pretty interesting. Character development is always something I look for in a story. I'm putting it on my library list.

Matt said...

I have enjoyed this book. It's a bit of romance, fairy tale, and personal struggle. The book muses on the invincibility of death to which all human beings have to succumb regardless of their status. Written in a voice that demarcates the boundary between fairy tale and reality, it redefines mercy, and ponders at the truth that love cannot be ordered to outward appearance and first impression.