Reviewed by L.D.Y.
Hardcover, 341 pages, 2009
Reason for Reading: I love a good book about society’s ‘outsiders.’
Synopsis: Truly Plaice stretched her mother to epic proportions during her pregnancy before giving birth killed her, and she was five when someone first declared that she was a ‘giant.’ Next to her dainty and perfect sister, Serena Jane, it seemed even more pronounced. The two sisters stand in stark contrast as they grow up, with Truly attracting horrified whispers and Serena Jane attracting all of the boys – a fate that will prove equally damaging. Eventually Truly will stumble upon a secret that may allow her to express that the love in her heart is as big as her stature – or it could destroy the lives of those around her.
Why you should read this book: Little Giant starts with a sense that magic is in the air, making Truly’s life seem like a fairytale (albeit of the true Brothers’ Grimm variety, where everything is tinged with darkness, mystery, and even violence). From there, it slowly crashes back to earth and we begin to see the realities of a young girl quickly growing beyond the size of a normal man and beyond that still as she reaches adulthood. Truly isn’t the only ‘oddball’ character – her best friend can’t, or won’t, speak; her love interest is tiny but magnificently brave; and as Truly ages she begins to see that the most ‘normal’ of people have their dark and unusual sides as well. Truly may be the giant in this novel but all of the characters are larger-than-life, lovable and detestable sometimes even within the same page. Little Giant does what every good book should – whisks you off to another world, urging you to look at the real world and the people in it a little differently when you finally close the covers of the book.
Why you should avoid this book: Truly makes some hard decisions in the novel, and she makes them for her own reasons and her own views on what’s right and wrong. This can make her a difficult character to read about sometimes, but that is a big reason I read – to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.
The day I laid Robert Morgan to rest was remarkable for two reasons. First, even though it was August, the sky overhead was as rough and cold as a January lake; and second, it was the day I started to shrink.
At that moment, Amelia snuck up behind her mother and peeked around her apron. A life passed amid gangsters, horse thieves, smugglers, and gamblers had granted Amelia an unerring nose for greed, vanity, and other assorted venal characteristics, and in Miss Sparrow, she smelled rancid pride combined with the bitter char of unrequited love. She smelled the lemon tang of loneliness mingling with despair. Just under Priscilla Sparrow’s skin, Amelia could tell, a rosemary blast of judiciousness rippled, followed by the musty decay of jealousy and a lingering note of envy – in short (and in spire of all of Miss Sparrow’s better attempts with Dick Crane), the odors of a lifelong spinster.
‘Aren’t you afraid? You watch the news.’ I looked for a flicker of fear or uncertainty, but all I saw were my own bulbous features reflected back at me.
‘I have to do this, Truly. I’m sorry. I’ll write. I promise.’ He tipped his chin up, and I knew that he wanted me to kiss him, but I was too mad. I turned my back on him and started walking to the farmhouse, so furious that I didn’t turn around and didn’t even say good-bye.
Also recommended: The Girls by Lori Lansens; Rain Village by Carolyn Turgeon; Madapple by Christina Meldrum; Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.
Also by this author: The Little Giant of Aberdeen County is Baker’s first novel.
Author’s website: tiffanybaker.com
Fun tidbit: Click here for Baker’s ‘Recipe for a Writing Life.’
Would I read more by this author? Absolutely!
© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2009