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 World • At Home with Books • Booking Mama • Bookopolis • Bookstack • Caribousmom • Gimme More Books • Hey, I want to read that • Michele – Only One L • Planet 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.