Thanks to Miriam with Hatchette Book Group for providing me with this book to review.
Author: Tiffany Baker
Grade: D - 18 and up (brief sexual themes, very slight language, weighty death themes)
A small town in New York, an old family legend, prejudice, cruelty, hope, an unnaturally large women, her unnaturally beautiful sister, a nearly mute friend, herbs, and love. All of these things can be found in Tiffany Baker's debut novel The Little Giant of Aberdeen County. Truly, the "giant", has guilt laid on her from the day she is born, when here huge and abnormal size costs her a mother. Her growth never does even out, and she passes up her petite and beautiful sister, two years her senior, when she is practically still an infant. Their distant and broken father dies when they are still quite young, and Truly has brought home to her the fact that she has been fighting from birth: the worth which others place on you is largely due to how you look. Serena Jane, Truly's sister, is taken in by the preacher and his wife, and given a petted life of ease. Truly, however, is only accepted by a poor and dishonest horse racer with a strange and speech reticent child. She is put to work helping out on the farm where her size and manlike form are put to good use in taking care of the horses.
Soon, however, Truly sees that great beauty does not necessarily guarantee a happy and carefree life, as her sister's dreams are snatched away in one night by the villain of the piece, Bob-bob, who is really just a weak and insecure boy, and turns into a weak and insecure man. But sometimes those are the people you have to watch out for, they have something to prove, and something to lose, and hold on as tight as they can to whatever they can grasp. Truly finds this out first hand, when she is forced into a daily relationship with her brother-in-law in order to take care of her nephew.
Will she ever be free of living with a man she detests? Can she let go of what life has taught her about her value, or lack thereof, and accept love and friendship into her life? Is there really truth to the legend of Bob-Bob's great-great-grandmother being a witch, and a missing book of spells?
This book truly amazed me with it's powerful and beautiful writing. I kept a highlighter near at all times while reading, and found myself having to restrain myself from marking too many phrases. Tiffany Baker has the ability to string words together in a way which stuns. The story is unusual, and stirring, as is the writing.
Some quotations from the book:
"his pale fingers worrying the corners of the covers like light-drunk moths."
"all anyone ever saw about me, I thought, were the parts that were
"He put his hand on my head, wishing he were better at
stories, wishing he could make up one now where the giant wasn't' bad, just
misunderstood, where the princess was huge--the bigger the better--where beauty
on the outside always matched beauty on the inside, wicked queens looked like
the hags they were, and uppity schoolteachers were locked in towers for
"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...the odors of
a lifelong spinster."
"She shut the door behind her as if she were
locking a reptile in a cage."