Saturday, December 20, 2008

Review: The Little Giant of Aberdeen County

Summary: 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 femine 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. -- Grand Central Publishing

I first noticed THE LITTLE GIANT OF ABERDEEN COUNTY by Tiffany Baker on The Debutante Ball. I thought it sounded like a great idea for a novel; and since I always just love the books and authors featured on this grog, I couldn't wait to read it. Fortunately for me, Miriam from Hachette Book Group USA sent me an Advanced Readers' Copy.

I absolutely adored this book! It was really unlike any other book that I've read in recent memory. Many of the characters, especially Truly, were very unique and are likely to stay in your thoughts for quite awhile. I loved the story of Truly and her family and friends, and I even found myself enjoying the magical element in this book (which is something I usually don't tend to appreciate.) As if the cast of quirky characters weren't enough, there were also enough surprises thrown into this novel to make it a wonderful read.

The story actually covers a lot of time -- from Truly's birth through her childhood into her adulthood. The book was written from Truly's point-of-view, and I especially enjoyed reading about her feelings of being different and ostracized. I thought Ms. Baker captured Truly's insecurities and fears so incredibly well at each different period of her life. Truly wasn't the only character who experienced these feelings, and I found some comfort in that she was able to find her own little support system.

My heart went out to Truly and many of the other odd characters in this novel. While Truly was most definitely flawed, I still found myself rooting for her against the many adversities she faced in her life. Even though it appeared that Truly had many more issues than her beautiful sister Serena Jane, I believe that Truly actually was the more fortunate sister. She was able to find more purpose in her life and eventual happiness. I enjoyed the ending of this novel, and I was glad to see that happy endings are possible -- although Truly's route there was filled with lots of bumps.

Tiffany Baker is a first time novelist, and THE LITTLE GIANT OF ABERDEEN COUNTY is a very powerful book. I absolutely loved her writing style. It was so eloquent and she drew me in within the first few pages. I was impressed with so many of her words and phrases that I can't even begin to pick just a few to show you how amazing she writes. I found that the last few paragraphs of each chapter were so insightful and beautifully written. I can't wait for Ms. Baker's next novel -- I know I'll be reading it the day it's released!

THE LITTLE GIANT OF ABERDEEN COUNTY will be available on January 8th. It is a marvelous book that will touch your heart, and I think it would make a wonderful book club discussion book. There is just so much to discuss from the quirky characters to the various themes of loneliness, obligation, friendship, and love. I wasn't able to find any discussion questions yet, but I'm sure they will be available in the very near future. As soon as I find them, I'll set up a link.

Also reviewed at:
SMS Book Reviews


bermudaonion said...

Thanks for the review, Julie. I have my fingers crossed that I'll get this one. What is a grog?

Julie P. said...

kathy- a grog is a group blog. The Debutante Ball is group of first time authors who each take a day and blog about a certain topic.

Moira said...

This sounds like a wonderful story. I will definitely be adding this to my list of things to pick up in 2009. Thanks for sharing!

Dar said...

I just loved this novel. I also rooted for Truly. She just grabbed my heart and didn't let go for the whole book no matter what she did. I really look forward to more from this author.

Jill said...

I'm even more excited to read this one now!!

dawn said...

Great review, Julie! I won this in a giveaway, and I'm (patiently) waiting for it to arrive.

I'll have to check out The Debutante's Ball, it sounds like a great place to find up-and-coming authors.

Ti said...

This sounds like something I would like. I like stories about quirky characters and I tend to root for the underdog so I am guessing Truly would be my kind of gal.

Shauna- Reading and Ruminations said...

I've had my eye on this one, and I'll definitely pick it up when it's released.

Callista said...

Glad you liked it, I love it too! I added a link to your review from mine.

S. Krishna said...

I love the Deb Ball books, but I wasn't sure about this one - your review has convinced me though! I'm adding it to my TBR list.

Anna said...

Glad you enjoyed it. I've heard great things about this book. It's in my TBR pile, but I haven't been able to start it yet.

Diary of an Eccentric