Truly Place, born larger than any normal infant should be, grows at an alarming rate throughout her childhood. It is especially distressing to Truly to grow like she does when compared to her beautiful doll-like sister, Serena Jane. After her mother dies in childbirth, the girls are raised by their father, and when he dies, Truly and Serena Jane are separated – Truly goes to live with a farming family where she will work hard but be loved, and Serena Jane to a family where she will be cherished as the precious princess she has always been. When, years later, Serena Jane leaves her husband and young son, Truly must finally leave the farm she loves and family she knows to move in with her brother-in-law in order to help take care of her nephew, Bobbie. While the world may not treat Truly as she deserves, she is a constant positive force in the boy’s life, and never stops loving those who love her back.
I am of two minds about The Little Giant of Aberdeen County. Overall, reading it was an enjoyable experience. Overall, I loved Truly and rooted for her the whole way through, I thought the town was so charming and the story felt very natural. Yet there were a couple of things about the novel that I distinctly disliked, and they did hinder my overall happiness with the book.
The first thing that really bothered me about the novel happened pretty early on in the story, and it left such a bad taste in my mouth. [minor spoiler ahead] Serena Jane is clearly raped by Bob Bob, causing a pregnancy and a subsequent marriage, yet the incident is not really discussed as the rape it is. I can’t tell you how much this angers me. I know that readers are smart enough to understand that it’s rape, but I wish there would have been more anger on Serena’s part about her circumstances, or at the very least on Truly’s part about what her sister had to go through! UGH. The second thing that bothered me was the overall bleakness of Truly’s life. Yes, she was a hopeful person, and yes she had plenty of people in her life who loved and cared for her, but the overall tone of her life was sort of sad. She was lonely, she did things for others without being reciprocated, she wanted desperately to be respected by her own family, and to me it was just really sad.
However, I did finish the book with an overall feeling of satisfaction. The writing is extremely charming, and I felt like I got to know these characters really, really well. I couldn’t have cared about Truly so much otherwise! I got such an honest feel for Aberdeen County, and I loved getting to know (most of) the people there. Truly is a character that really got in my heart and stayed there, and that’s probably why her situation depressed me so much. I also found myself caring for Serena Jane, especially as she is only shown through Truly’s eyes – I got the feeling that there was so much more to her, and I wanted to get to know her better.
So, yes I liked The Little Giant of Aberdeen County. There were aspects of the novel that I didn’t like, but I can still recommend it. It’s not going on any of my “best of” lists, but I would call it a solid read nonetheless.