Monday, March 30, 2009

A Little Giant in a Little Story--Tiffany Barker's "Little Giant of Aberdeen County"

Tiffany Baker's "The Little Giant of Aberdeen County" is set in the second half of the 20th century in the small town of Aberdeen, New York. The story focuses on the life of Truly, a girl in Aberdeen who has a disease that makes her grow unusually fast. Her size makes Truly an outcast her entire life, a problem that is compounded when the town insists on comparing Truly to her perfect and beautiful sister Serena Jane. Truly leads a difficult life, and it is only made more challenging by decisions others make for her. It is only once Truly decides to take her life into her own hands, that she is able to escape the stigma of being the "little giant" and find happiness. 

I think my opinion of this book suffered from the over-the-top praise that I read about it before I actually got around to reading the book. From what I had heard others say, I thought this book was going to change my perspective and introduce me to a completely new and wonderful character. Instead, "Little Giant" is filled with miserable people who are downright cruel to each other. Only at the very end of the novel does anything even remotely uplifting happen, but by that point the novel is so dark it's hard to redeem. I feel like I can't say too much without giving away the plot, but I found myself continually frustrated by the passivity of the characters--they knew they were miserable, but they did nothing to try to change their circumstances. There was no great lesson for all of this suffering, and at the end of this novel I felt sorry for its characters but I also felt a little empty--I couldn't figure out what the purpose of the story had been. 

This novel is still kicking around in my head--I think I'm still trying to figure out why the author wanted to tell this story--so I can't say it wasn't worth reading. Baker also has a gift with language, and she has some wonderful turns of phrase that made sections of the novel beautiful to read. But I am puzzled as to much of the praise for this novel--but I would still likely recommend that if you're curious about this buzzed about book, go ahead and give it a read.

No comments:

Post a Comment