Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County

I've had a hard time trying to categorize this book beyond just saying "fiction". It's a love story with mysteries and folk lore and villains. Let me give you the 411 on this very cool, very suspenseful, very amazing book. The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker is all about our larger-than-life heroine, Truly Plaice. I write larger-than-life in the literal sense since she was born a 13 pound baby and grew to be taller and broader than any man in her small town of Aberdeen. It didn't help that her older sister, Serena Jane, was tiny, beautiful and adored by the entire town. Born in the 1950s and therefore before the era of political correctness, Truly is openly mocked and stared at. Her first teacher sent her home with a note saying that her size was out of the bounds of normalcy and she needed to see a doctor immediately.

There's a problem with seeing a doctor. In Aberdeen, Robert Morgans have been doctors since the Civil War. The first Robert Morgan was a deserter who wandered his way up to northern New York state and married the local herbalist/healer/witch, Tabitha Dyerson, that everybody went to for their medical care. He had a son whom he named Robert Morgan, who had a son named Robert Morgan, who had a son named Robert Morgan that delivered Truly and watched her mother die during the process. Truly's father never forgave Robert Morgan IV and blamed her for death and Truly was never seen by anyone to discover the source of her extreme size. It also didn't help that Robert Morgan IV had a son, Robert (called Bob Bob by his family) who constantly tormented Truly throughout her life.

Truly's only friends are the very small Marcus Thompson, who is smarter than everybody else and kinder too, and Amelia Dyerson. Amelia's family eventually becomes guardians of Truly after her dad dies and the family that takes Serena Jane refuses to take care of Truly. The Dyersons are incredibly poor and constantly chasing off creditors, but they love Truly and make a home for her. Amelia becomes like a sister to Truly and since Amelia is sparse with words, Truly is able to help her function in the world. These two characters make the book so beautiful, knowing that Truly is loved by some people even if the whole world thinks she's a freak. And the love the blossoms between Truly and Marcus is absolutely the best part of the entire book.

Back to the mystery part. It is rumored the Tabitha Dyerson kept a shadow book with all her secrets about healing and herbs. Each Robert Morgan has searched the house for signs of it and has never found it. Robert Morgan V returns to Aberdeen with his wife, Serena Jane, and son, Bobbie, but Serena Jane disappears soon after. He calls on Truly to come and help raise his son and Truly, out of duty and love for the boy, agrees. She knows how evil Robert Morgan V is, but she doesn't feel like she can say no. Truly starts to get wrapped up in the mystery involving the shadow book and eventually, consents to let Robert Morgan V examine her and determine the cause of her size. Two mysteries for the price of one!

I think a hero is only as interesting as how well the villain is written. Truly is amazing, spunky, full of love, and takes care of herself, but Robert Morgan V is also sneaky, manipulative, selfish, conniving, heartless and a total dirtbag. It is shocking that she agrees to live in his house and care for his son and his barbs and snide comments are even worse than when they were kids. As an example of how awful he is, he chased Serena Jane all through high school and she didn't give him the time of day. When she finally consented to go on a date with him, he raped her and impregnated her with Bobbie. They married right after high school , much to their mutual dismay, and then they left for college in Buffalo, NY. How despicable is that? Yeah, he's bad to the bone, people. He is so unlikeable that the ending will completely throw you for a loop. I almost fell out of my chair.

There is so much to this book! I keep wanting to write more about it, but then I remind myself that I want to give just enough detail to entice, but not so much that the whole plot is given away! It's a fast read, not because it's short but because it's so riveting. My husband and I both read it over a weekend and then we sat and talked about it one evening. There's so much to think about. Would we make the same choices Truly made? She's so good, yet capable of succombing to revenge and deeds that I couldn't stomach. I love her, yet I don't know if we would be friends. She's complex.

This book has so many good characters, an amazing story, is morally compelling and heart-poundingly suspenseful. What more could you ask for in a book?


  1. I remember seeing this at the book store and I made a mental note to put it on my request list at the library, but my mind promptly lost the mental note! Thanks for the reminder. I can't wait to read this!

  2. Ooooo, this sounds like a good one! And my library finally has a to-read list feature on their website, so it's more than likely I'll actually remember to get this one!

  3. I just finished tearing through this book. It was definitely riveting. I think I need Tim to read it just so I can discuss it out loud. The ending conflicted me so much, I am still not sure what I think. I do think it was really really well written. I also think that you described my feelings about Truly when you said you love her, but couldn't be friends. And I love Marcus. I think that the best thing about this book is that, while it is mostly about Truly and her imperfections, there is a character that you can rely on for strength and integrity. It makes the whole story cohere for me. Marcus is the constant good throughout the story. Anyway, I was considering reviewing it on my blog, but you have already put into words what I can't, but want to. I'll just refer people to this review. By the way, I just finished Paper Towns as well. Very interesting read. Next time we visit, we'll have lots to discuss!

  4. It's me again. I read this book while in Oregon and I could hardly put it down. I enjoyed it immensely. Truly is a riveting character and your review of this book is excellent. Thanks for the recommendation!