The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker

19 02 2009

little-giantThere are lots of different definitions of perfection.  I have, like, 18 different “perfect” days.  The one that happens most frequently is the quiet perfect day – you know, the one where you wake up feeling rested and your coffee comes out perfect and you actually have appropriate breakfast food and the sun is shining and it’s the perfect temperature and the whole day just unfolds wonderfully, but when you go to describe it all you can say you did was not much of anything.  Well, that’s kinda how this book is.  Perfect in a quiet way.

Truly Plaice, the narrator and star of the story, is far from perfect.  Huge since she was born, she never stops growing and never fits in.  She has a beautiful older sister, a drunk of a father and a mother that died giving birth to her.  She has to fight for every little happiness in her small town, and she knows it.  Truly isn’t upbeat, she isn’t an optimist, this isn’t a book of sunshine and rainbows.  This is how she describes her relationship to her sister:

“My whole life, people could never understand how someone like Serena Jane had ended up with someone like me for a sister, but the answer was easy, if you thought about it.  The reason the two of us were as opposite as sewage and spring water, I thought, was that pretty can’t exist without ugly.  Even without looking at my puddle-brown eyes first, everyone still would have noticed that Serena Jane’s eyes were the promising blue of the Atlantic in July, but I made it a sure bet.  I made my sister beautiful without her even trying.”

That’s kinda the theme of the whole book – balance and opposites.  Because, compared with Truly, just about everyone is opposite, but she’s still able to find her balance.  The book is populated with a cast of incredibly well defined characters and Tiffany Baker has a knack for description that doesn’t attract attention to itself until you realize you have a completely formed picture of this world living in your head.  And all of that is very nice, but what makes this book so damn good is Truly.  She carries a whole world of hurt inside of her, and there were plenty of times that my stomach felt sick in empathy, but she manages to find her joy eventually, and that’s really all a person can want in this life.  There’s really not much more to say about this book, just like the perfect quiet day, describing it in detail would be a disservice.  It’s something you have to experience for yourself.

[Side note:  My perfect day that happens least frequently is the one where I wake up well rested to find out I have obscene amounts of money.  This has happened a sum total of 0 times, but I haven’t stopped hoping.]

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