The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker
BOOK REVIEW: The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker
Grand Central Publishing, 2009, ISBN 978-0-446-19420-4
Truly Plaice does not fit your stereotypes of a heroine. Unlike her angelic sister, Serena Jane, she is slow, clumsy and big. Not just big – enormous. And not a jolly sort of enormous, but a freak show ugly kind of enormous. She also is dense, and somewhat dull. She shrugs off taunts and insults, and refuses to rail against the perversity of a God who would give her blonde, beautiful sister so much and herself so little. She refuses to blame her troubles on her sister who abandons her or her father when he rejects her. She simply accepts what happens to her and who she is.
Yet even though Truly is slow, she is not stupid. Vicious actions hurt her. Being the butt of so many jokes causes her to retreat into her own world. Still, she possesses a questioning mind, a dogged determination, and a huge if unrecognized heart. Being one of Aberdeen’s outcasts, she is able to view the town and its people with an eye unbiased by expectations of prestige or entitlement, which allows her to uncover a secret that has been part of Aberdeen’s history for generations. As Truly unravels this secret, she comes in possession of knowledge that could be used for good or retribution, raising a moral dilemma that threatens to engulf even she who is used to dealing with enormity.
Anyone who has ever been subject to ridicule or malicious jokes as a child due to physical shortcomings, whether it be excessive weight, bad acne, buck teeth or an unfortunate birthmark (or any other myriad of physical imperfections) will recognize themselves in Truly. The reactions of the townspeople are real and ring true to our own experiences. But so, too, do the friendships that do develop, the beauties that are manifest in the world, and the hopes that love can be realized, even for the most modest of us. For love and friendship, and even a kind of understanding, exists for Truly as well; her life is not devoid of some pleasure – which is one of the saving graces of this book. It all rings so true.
It is hard to believe that The Little Giant of Aberdeen County is Tiffany Baker’s first book. She is young, attractive, well educated, and well traveled. Yet she writes knowledgeably of ugliness and death and the disintegration of family. She also possesses a beautiful writer’s voice; The Little Giant of Aberdeen County is full of evocative images, well tuned metaphors and lilting descriptors. Still, this book, just like the gargantuan woman at the center of it, is very down to earth and accessible.
Exceptionally written and very highly recommended.