The Little Giant of Aberdeen County.
Grand Central Publishing.
Review copy provided courtesy of Newman Communications, Inc.
Summary from Barnes & Noble:
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 aresult, 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.
I really enjoyed reading this story, as I could (in ways) relate to what Truly dealt with growing up. Living in a society in which schools embrace character education programs and teaching children about the importance of accepting diversity, we expect for everyone to be treated equally, fairly. However, I know first hand that it isn't happening - I was bullied, I dealt with the same miserableness that, at times, Truly did as well, albeit for very different reasons.
As a teacher, reading this book, it only furthered my thinking as to ways in which we can truly (no pun intended) help children to accept and understand differences among us. I believe parents would benefit from reading this book, as they will have the opportunity to look down on the situation a bit differently - they have children - they want their child treated fairly. And, while Truly was able to overcome all that she faced and have her somewhat-happy ending, we have to be realistic and pro-active with today's youngsters, in realizing that in order to succeed and have the happy ending of their own, children need support and shows of affection. There is much to be learned throughout the reading of this book and readers (like myself) will enjoy experiencing with Truly the love, death, friendships, secrets and lies that Truly faces throughout her adventure in the story!
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