The Book: The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, by Tiffany Baker
The Story: (from Goodreads) When Truly Plaice’s mother was pregnant, the town of Aberdeen joined together in betting how recordbreakingly 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 femine 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
What I Thought: The cover is beautiful. I love books about small towns. I love books about families in turmoil. I thought that I was going to love this book. I even pegged it as my “take this book camping” book… and that’s a pretty big deal.
The first 100 pages were absolutely brutal for me. I was really torn about just putting it down all together- while I thought that the writing was pretty and readable, the story itself was just…. nothing. I didn’t care about the (1 million small town) characters, there was no real progression and while I realize that it was all plot set up, there has to be something there to keep you hooked, ya know?! I thought about putting it down, but had already been reading it long enough that I wanted to at least have the satisfaction of finishing.
About page 120, I felt like the writer finally hit her stride- some major plot pieces came together and more “minor” characters were dropped in favor of focusing on 4 or 5 main people. This was a super smart move and I found myself becoming attached to a couple of the characters.
Still, even with a little bit of plot progression and relatable characters, I still took almost 2 weeks to read a 350 page book. That is totally ridiculous. To be fair, I read a couple other books at the same time, but it was only because I couldn’t handle Aberdeen County anymore!
I loved everything to do with the old quilt and how it came to be and how Truly used it. The tail end of the book- probably the last 100 pages or so- focus almost entirely on that and I read that quickly and was totally intrigued. It’s just a shame that it took the author that long to get around to it. I think that this could have been a pretty great book had it been handled better.
Conclusion: Even though I eventually got into it, I’d advise anyone else to skip this. The payoff is not worth all of the work plodding through the first 2/3rds of the book!