–but not the kind in the cable series! Truly Plaice’s life would be extraordinary whatever her circumstance. Born with acromegaly, she is, indeed, a giant. Truly’s mother Lily, sick with cancer, struggles to deliver this incredible child, all the while composing a letter in her mind to the baby she assumes will be a boy. Her dying words are that letter’s closing, “Yours truly” … but the doctor catches only a whisper, and assumes Lily had named the child.
As in most stories where a mother dies leaving her infant children and grieving husband, Truly’s childhood was the stuff of fairy tales: a drunken father, poverty, separated siblings, and menacing authority figures. What distinguishes Little Giant from fairy tales, though, is Truly’s medical condition and her village’s reaction to her. Shunned, hidden away, and mercilessly teased, Truly sees herself as others see her: ugly. While Truly adores her older sister Serena Jane, even that love is rejected. Instead, Truly bonds with Aberdeen’s other outcasts–a speech-impaired girl and an eccentric young genius.
Time is not kind to Truly; she eventually seeks out medical care from one of the very boys who bullied her throughout childhood, but the prognosis is not good: Truly will continue to grow (in both height and heft) until her organs give out. While her life sounds grim, Truly does make a kind of truce with the circumstances that surround her. She gently raises her sister’s child and falls in love of a sort.
Even more important, Truly finds she possesses a gift. Housekeeper to Dr. Bob Morgan, last in a long line of Morgan doctors who ministered to Aberdeen residents, she uncovers the family’s long lost secret. That first Dr. Morgan had married the town witch who secreted away her spell book before she died. Truly discovers that Tabitha Morgan had “hidden” the spell book in plain sight–and she begins to unravel the dangerous secrets of herbs and potions.
To be honest, I was worried that, as the story grew grim, the novel’s ending would be unresolved, even unhappy. But while I wouldn’t say the ending was happy in a fairy tale type of way, it was satisfying enough. Little Giant is the type of book I love to love–a pinch magic, a dash of love, and a good dose of healing. A cover review compares Baker’s story to Alice Hoffman’s and I couldn’t agree more.
Just started: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. What few pages I’ve already read are compelling. Quote I think I’ll always remember: “Remember the 11th commandment. Thou shalt not operate on the day of a patient’s death.” Can’t wait to give this book some more time–I’ve finally got my AP class’ essays graded, so I might be in luck tomorrow! (Except then I’ll have my yearbook proofs nagging away …)