Andi is short. And she has lots of wishes. She wishes she could play on the school basketball team, she wishes for her own bedroom, but most of all she wishes that her long-lost half-brother, Bernardo, could come and live in London where he belongs.
Then Andi's biggest wish comes true and she's minutes away from becoming someone's little sister. As she waits anxiously for Bernardo to arrive from the Philippines, she hopes he'll turn out to be tall and just as crazy as she is about basketball. When he finally arrives, he's tall all right. Eight feet tall, in fact - plagued by condition called Gigantism and troubled by secrets that he believes led to his phenomenal growth.
In a novel packed with quirkiness and humor, Gourlay explores a touching sibling relationship and the clash of two very different cultures.
So many armpits, so little deodorant.
The whole world is heading out to Heathrow to meet long-lost relatives. I am wedged between the tummies of the two fattest men in the world. Rank.
Mum's practically vibrating. Like she's overdosed on coffee. Which she probably has.
Dad's got his arm around her like a lock. She's fidgeting so hard and the train's so crowded. 'It'll be ages yet, Mary Ann,' he whispers into her ear.
'I just want to make sure we're there when he comes out.'
'He's sixteen. He'll be fine!' Dad kisses her forehead. Which isn't a stretch because the crowd is pushing them so close together his face is practically pasted to her head.
'But William' - Mum glares at his chin - 'he's so TALL!'
Why is Mum so psycho about Bernardo being tall? She's been going on about it since we found out he was coming to London.
'Don't be surprised now, Andi, your brother is tall. Tall, you hear me?' Does she think I needed impressing? I...
Candy Gourlay has a unique and heartful voice. And Tall Story is the kind of book that feels familiar and brand new, all at the same time. It will appeal to a wide middle grade audience - both girls and boys because of its strong dual protagonists - and especially to basketball lovers! It has the ability to connect the reader to him or herself, and also to the incredible, wide world we all live in.
(Reviewed by Tamara Smith).
Full Review (978 words).
Perhaps Candy Gourlay writes about dismantling the walls between people because she has chosen to scale them, push on them, and break them down for herself.
Candy tells a story about leaving Manila, where she spent much of her childhood, to live in England. Her two youngest brothers (she is one of six siblings) were just little guys at the time. When she returned for a visit a year later, one of those "little guys" opened the door and she didn't even recognize him and couldn't believe how much he had grown. She meant that he was so much taller and older. But she also meant, I believe, that she had grown during that year away. She had crossed a continent, had crossed cultures, had leapt over that wall.
Born in the city of Davao...
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