Monday, February 2, 2009

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker (a review)

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany BakerThe Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker is the story of Truly, whose mother dies giving birth to her and whose older sister Serena Jane embodies ideal feminine beauty. Truly, on the other hand, is a “giant” who goes around in boys’ clothes as a child to hide her ever-expanding body. When their father dies, she and her sister are separated: Serena Jane is brought up like a princess by the local reverend and his wife, while Truly is taken in by a hard-on-their-luck outcast family.

The first thing I want to say about this book is that I loved it! Although it was only the second book I read this year, I have no doubt it will find its way onto my “Best of 2009” list in a year’s time.

Here are some of my thoughts about this novel:

It bothered me at first that I never really got a sense of how big Truly was. Unless I somehow missed it, she is only physically described in relation to herself, not in comparison to anything or anyone else (except in general terms to her sister), so I constantly found myself wondering how big is she really? In the end, I decided that it didn’t matter, that like Truly, I didn’t need to know how much she weighed or how much space she took up, that by obsessing about this I was missing the point of this story.

Although I would beg to differ with those who consider that The Little Giant contains elements of magic realism (herbalism is not magic!), this novel does have a magical quality and does borrow from fairy tales and folklore. As one reviewer made me realize, The Little Giant contains archetypal fairy tale characters: a giant, a witch, a princess, an evil man, a near-mute girl, etc. However, these characters are all psychologically complex and realistic. In fact, I loved the way Baker was able to capture so much of a character’s personality in a single image. Here are two examples (for two different characters):
Bob Bob shrugged him off. He wasn’t afraid—he wasn’t even impressed. As far as he was concerned, the old woman was like the dried-up beetle shells that appeared on the garage floor at the end of every summer, their withered legs tucked up into their bellies, their wings desiccated and blown to dust. If he ground his sneaker over the top of her, he bet, she would crunch and crumble, and that would be the end of it. Bob Bob remained as still as he could, counting the woman’s waxen wrinkles, until his father deemed he’d seen enough and pulled the sheet back up over the woman’s face. He turned toward Bob Bob. “Well?” The question was a fishhook hanging in the air. (p. 109)
His child’s weight barely registered on the mattress, and as he nestled against the bulk of me, I could feel the sinews of his body held taut. It was like sheltering a spooked horse, and I thought back to all the days I’d spent combing down August’s nervous animals. The trick had been to move slow and speak easy, avoiding the quick spike of a hoof or the sudden pinch of teeth. You had to maneuver as if you were carrying a secret you were just about ready to let spill. (p. 188)
This is a novel that addresses many big issues, but it never felt heavy to me. Although there was one plot element near the end of the book that I was a bit disappointed in, I highly recommend The Little Giant. Tiffany Baker is definitely an author to watch out for!

For other reviews of this novel, visit these blogs:
A Bookworm’s WorldAt Home with BooksBooking MamaBookopolisBookstackCaribousmomGimme More BooksHey, I want to read thatMichele – Only One LPlanet Books

Hachette has generously agreed to sponsor a giveaway of three copies of this book on my blog! Come back tomorrow for all the details.

Thank you to Hachette for sending me this book to review.


This is the second book I review for the New Authors Challenge.

26 comments:

  1. Great review Avis. This was one of my favorites of 2008. I loved it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Dar! This feels a bit more scattered than my usual reviews, but I also wanted to avoid giving too much away!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the great review Avis...I will be back tomorrow for your giveaway!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I can't wait to read this one. Your review is fantastic.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I really enjoy your reviews! Thanks so much for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for the great review. I've wanted to read this book, as I enjoy reading books related to weight. lol I'm odd.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Nice review.I like psychologically complex charcters and if you think it will be a favourite of the year it must be very good. Thanks for reviewing it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I can't wait to read this one, great review:)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Nice review -- I can't wait to read this!
    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great review Avis! I can't wait to read this book. I have heard so many great things about it and your review just makes me want to read it more.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is in my TBR pile and it looks better and better the more I hear about it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. So glad you liked this! I thought it was great, too.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sounds really good! Great review. I really want to read this.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Your review was great. It really made me want to read the book.
    Good job!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thank you for the review. I think I would enjoy this one and have added it to my 'must read' list.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I've seen many reviews for this, but your review pushed me over the edge. I've now added it to my ever-growing wish list!

    ReplyDelete
  17. This books sounds like my kind of read! Great review, Avis!

    ReplyDelete
  18. OH, I sooo want to read this one!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great review. I'll definitely be on the lookout for this one. I'm intrigued by the fairy tale resonances you mentioned.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I have not read a negative review of this book. Can't wait to read it. Loved your review!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Glad to hear you enjoyed it despite the part you found disappointing. I'll be reading this one soon!

    --Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thanks, everybody, for commenting on this review!

    Anna, with respect to the part I found a bit disappointing, I would say that I wished a certain thing hadn't happened near the end of the book. Even though it felt like a way to avoid complication in the story (if that makes any sense; I don't want to give anything away!), "disappointing" now seems like too strong a word for how I felt about it.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Loved your review. It's goin' in my pile...you know which one. The already mile-high TBR pile!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I really loved the way you not only reviewed the book, but read other reviews and compared them. I liked that other reviewers noted the fairy tale comparison. I am not sure I would ever pick that when I read it.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Woah. If this book is on your upcoming "best of" list, it has got to be good. Thanks for sharing the book.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hey, Great Review! It makes me want to read the book...although I think I like your review more than the quotes from the book! The plot sounds a little 'unlikely' but still worth a gander...

    ReplyDelete