Summary and book reviews of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County

A Novel

by Tiffany Baker

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2009, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2010, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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About this Book

Book Summary

A multi-generational tale with many dark aspects and a touch of witchcraft, The Little Giant of Aberdeen County is the story of Truly - a girl grown massive due to a pituitary problem. Reviled and brought up in poverty, Truly finds her calling and a future that none expected.

When Truly Plaice's mother was pregnant, the town of Aberdeen joined together in betting how record-breakingly huge the baby boy would ultimately be. The girl who proved to be Truly paid the price of her enormity; her father blamed her for her mother's death in childbirth, and was totally ill equipped to raise either this giant child or her polar opposite sister Serena Jane, the epitome of feminine perfection. When he, too, relinquished his increasingly tenuous grip on life, Truly and Serena Jane are separated--Serena Jane to live a life of privilege as the future May Queen and Truly to live on the outskirts of town on the farm of the town sadsack, the subject of constant abuse and humiliation at the hands of her peers.

Serena Jane's beauty proves to be her greatest blessing and her biggest curse, for it makes her the obsession of classmate Bob Bob Morgan, the youngest in a line of Robert Morgans who have been doctors in Aberdeen for generations. Though they have long been the pillars of the community, the earliest Robert Morgan married the town witch, Tabitha Dyerson, and the location of her fabled shadow book--containing mysterious secrets for healing and darker powers--has been the subject of town gossip ever since. Bob Bob Morgan, one of Truly's biggest tormentors, does the unthinkable to claim the prize of Serena Jane, and changes the destiny of all Aberdeen from there on.

When Serena Jane flees town and a loveless marriage to Bob Bob, it is Truly who must become the woman of a house that she did not choose and mother to her eight-year-old nephew Bobbie. Truly's brother-in-law is relentless and brutal; he criticizes her physique and the limitations of her health as a result, and degrades her more than any one human could bear. It is only when Truly finds her calling--the ability to heal illness with herbs and naturopathic techniques--hidden within the folds of Robert Morgan's family quilt, that she begins to regain control over her life and herself. Unearthed family secrets, however, will lead to the kind of betrayal that eventually break the Morgan family apart forever, but Truly's reckoning with her own demons allows for both an uprooting of Aberdeen County, and the possibility of love in unexpected places.

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Truly is the "little giant" of this book, yet her size seems to make her less, rather than more, visible to the town around her. Can you explain this phenomenon? What do you think the author is trying to say about her outsider status?
     
  2. Serena Jane and Truly are as physically different as sisters can be, yet Truly sees that this difference is crucial, explaining "the reason the two of us were as opposite as sewage and spring water, I thought, was that pretty can't exist without ugly." (pp. 97-98) How would you describe Truly and Serena's connection? How is it different from Truly's relationship with Amelia Dyerson? Which seems the more genuine sisterhood to you?
     
  3. As the ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County is compulsively readable and likely to garner a lot of popular attention. It's sure to find its way onto book club agendas, as its themes provide ample opportunities for discussion and its fast-moving plot will appeal to a wide variety of readers.

A note to those looking to find, or avoid, magical elements in the books they choose to read: Many reviews mention "magic" as a plot element in The Little Giant of Aberdeen County. This is a bit deceiving. Truly is inspired by a woman who was rumored to be a witch because she was so adept at healing with herbs, and this is where the supposed magic comes into the story; but there's no element of the fantastic.   (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Full Review Members Only (481 words).

Media Reviews

The Washington Post - Ron Charles

Baker knows how to spin an alluring plot...like a large bag of gothic potato chips, and once you start, you just can't stop.

Booklist

At times the town of Aberdeen ... seems a little too familiar. Overall, though, the novel charms and will find a devoted audience.

Library Journal

An unforgettable heroine with a story that begs to be read and read again. Highly recommended.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. It's got all the earmarks of a hit - infectious and lovable narrator, a dash of magic, an impressive sweep and a heartrending but not treacly family drama.

Reader Reviews

AMP

Surprisingly good
Great fiction. Never boring. Inspirational story.

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Beyond the Book

Acromegaly
Truly Plaice, the protagonist of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, is referred to as a "giant" even as a child. It is not until mid-way through the book that a physician provides the name of the disease that afflicts her: Acromegaly.

Acromegaly comes from the Latin acron, for extremity, and megas, meaning large. It was originally known as "Pierre Marie Disease" after the French neurologist who first correlated the clinical and pathological findings in 1886. The disease is rare, affecting about one in every 20,000 Americans.

The underlying cause is an over-secretion of growth hormone by the pituitary gland. In 90% of acromegaly cases, this is due to a benign tumor on the pituitary gland called a ...

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