Friday, January 15, 2010

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County - Tiffany Baker (audio)


I am actually proud that I remember the details of how I ended up ordering this audio book. Normally, I order them impulsively and don't keep notes. I've actually seen many reviews for this book, with it universally enjoyed, but it was Jenn's review (Devourer of Books) that tipped the scale...pardon the pun.

Truly has not had an easy life. Her mother died in childbirth, her father was a destitute alcoholic, and her sister, Serena Jane, was beautiful, petite and perfect. Oh, and Truly just happens to be a 400-pound giant. Ridiculed by everyone including her father and teacher, avoided by the townspeople, bullied by her peers, she became accustomed to taking the submissive role and not standing up for herself. Her best friends consist of a wiry little know-it-all boy and a nearly mute farm girl.

Truly's life is irreversibly changed, however, with the occurrence of two pivotal events: her sister's one and only date with the detestable Robert Morgan, spoiled son of the town doctor, and Truly's discovery of an heirloom quilt that was hand-stitched by Robert Morgan's great great great grandmother and herbal healer. Truly begins a personal journey of self-discovery, finding her voice and her moxie. She soon learns she is no longer willing to be meek and mild, but has a thirst for revenge and a desire for love.

Because this book was generally loved out in blogdom, it pains me to say that while I was entertained by this book, there was plenty that bothered me. I normally love stories about the underdog getting the last laugh and reinventing themselves. The character development, the building of our understanding of Truly's life from birth, it was all there and was wonderfully done. The personalities were well-constructed, from the bitter school marm, to Truly's friends Marcus and Amelia, Serena Jane and her gay son, and the narcissistic Robert Morgan.

But Truly scared me a little. She had every reason to have a chip on her shoulder, but she got pretty vengeful, without much afterthought. (Side note: OK, I just recovered emotionally from the cruelty to kittens thing in Her Fearful Symmetry, and now this?) And I guess Truly ultimately learns her lessons the hard way, but the whole thing made me uncomfortable and more than a little repulsed.

OK, so let's talk about the art of the simile. They normally make a book more three-dimensional and colorful. But the author was pretty heavy-handed with her similes in this case. As in, you could design a drinking game around it. I began to focus on how many there were in a two-minute period, and was distracted from the story.

"The inside of her chest rang and reverberated like a hollow urn."
"Her face crumbled at its edges like a wad of wrapping paper waiting to be burned."
"Her voice smacked like a ruler."
"...as useless as children's party balloons."
"...head as bald as a plucked goose."


You get the idea. Frankly, it was maddening. Maybe it is just me, because I don't remember anyone else having an issue with it.

The narrator of the book did an excellent job at embodying Truly. She made the story an entertaining 10 discs. The story never dragged, and was able to listen to the entire story in just a few days.

It is in these situations where I doubt myself. People didn't just like this book, they embraced it with all their hearts, in glowing terms. Perhaps I allowed a mood to overshadow the greater good, but I don't feel I'm worth my salt if I don't tell it like I saw it. So, just to be fair, here are some other opinions:

The Book Lady's Blog
Books on the Brain


3 out of 5 stars

33 comments:

JoAnn said...

Seems like so many people raved about this one but, for some reason, I never felt compelled to read (or listen) to it.

Molly said...

I am so glad that you chose to give an honest opinion! We all have different tastes, and it was good to hear your take on this one.

As you know, I brought this home from the library yesterday and will hopefully have to time to read it. I did, however, immediately start reading Swan Thieves, which I must say, is awesome so far :)

Jackie (Farm Lane Books) said...

I almost bought this at one point after seeing several great reviews. I'm sorry to hear that you didn't like it, but you did a great job of explaining why. I'm not a big fan of similie overuse, so I think that would bother me too. If I see a copy I'll probably still pick it up and read the first few pages. These polarising books really intrigue me!

Anna said...

I really appreciate your honest assessment. You really do have to write your true thoughts and not second guess your mood or whatever. I'll be posting my thoughts on a DNF later today, and boy, let me tell you, that was hard! I hate not finishing a book, but I just couldn't bring myself to finish it.

I see your point about the similes, but I guess I didn't notice them at the time.

Thanks for the link!

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Julie P. said...

I thought your review and your points were very interesting. I'm one of those people who really liked this book (thanks for the shout out) but I think that's what's so great about books. There are books out there for every reader!

Kaye said...

The similes didn't bother me either and while I thought the book was good, it was not a standout read for me. Maybe it was all the hype sometimes leads to disappointment.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I got this book, and I kept looking at it and putting it down, and finally I gave it away in a giveaway; so glad now I did!

bermudaonion said...

I'm halfway through the book right now, so I just skimmed your review. I haven't noticed all the similes, but they'll probably jump out at me now! LOL

LisaMM said...

Now that's a drinking game I'd like to play!! LOL How funny! I enjoyed the book but I read it rather than listened to it, so maybe that's the difference because I didn't find the similes annoying in the lease.

I love your review, Sandy! THanks for a good laugh this morning!

LisaMM said...

or the LEAST. LOL

stacybuckeye said...

I brought this home from the library, but had to return it before I got to it. After your review, I probably won't be in a rush to check it out again! (and that's okay, no shortage of books here)

caite said...

Maybe the similes were more obvious in an audio book? I have this one, but have not read it. But rather than making me want to read it less, the fact that Trudy sort of scared you makes it more interesting. Thanks..lol

Jeane said...

I haven't read this one, but I have to say I love the use of similies. However, their overuse can definitely feel heavy-handed. And I wasn't really feeling compelled to read Her Fearful Symmetry yet but knowing there's cruelty to cats makes me want to stay away from it!

The Bumbles said...

I wonder if Caite is on to something - that you noticed the overabundance of similes more because you were hearing them rather than seeing them?

It is tough to look past something once it has made itself so obvious to your brain. Never apologize for having an opinion you can explain.

Kathleen said...

This kind of reminds me a bit of the book, She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb but I think he did it better. I'll have to check this one out and see what I think about it.

heidenkind said...

Well... that sounds pretty terrible, I have to say.

Amy Reads Good Books said...

Good review! Love the reference to the little kitten in HFS. :)

Alyce said...

Most of the reviews I have read have been glowing, but I have read several from people who didn't like the book very much, so I don't think you're alone. I think this is one of those books that isn't going to appeal to everyone.

softdrink said...

I feel like I'm one of the few people who haven't read this one. But the idea of a 400 pound giant never really interested me.

Nymeth said...

I'm not sure if this one is for me either. Ah well...better luck with your next book!

Beth F said...

Interesting. The premise/story never appealed to me so I didn't buy or borrow it. THen I started seeing all sorts of rave reviews and I thought, hummm, I really need to read this. I bought the audio. I haven't listen to the audio. Now I may just pass.

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

I never picked this one up. Not sure why, probably some indefinable reason that I miss a lot of "blogland" favorites. Sometimes the hype stands up, but for me many times it does not.

But am I ever glad you pointed out the simile issues in this one....that would have driven me absolutely bananas.

Don't they have a contest each year for the worst use of similes you can come up with???

Susan said...

The overuse of similes and metaphors drives me crazy...I call it flowery writing. Just say her heart was pounding in her chest. We get it.

I trust your judgment implicitly, so I probably won't waste my time with this one. Besides, I get all the 400+ pound people I need on Biggest Loser! lol

mattviews said...

I also sang praises for this one because I enjoyed it like a fairy tale, but was aware that readers might have thought otherwise. The book does rely on heavy employment of similes and metaphors, to a point that might a bit cliche. You've got strong argument to support why you don't enjoy it as much as others do. This is a great review!

Dar said...

I really loved this book as well. I even have it on order from the library to listen to. Sorry you didn't like it so much but everyone has different tastes when it comes to books and that's ok.

Melody said...

I bought this book after reading several good reviews, but just haven't got around to reading it yet. I suppose I'm not in a hurry of reading this book after reading your review. ;)

Alice Teh said...

I have the book and should try to get to it as soon as I can. I know I have like tonnes of books in the TBR pile (we ALL do!) and it's crazy trying to keep up.

Jenners said...

I actually had a copy of this and gave it away via PaperBack Swap without reading it ... perhaps I "sensed" how you felt? Good for you for being honest ... always appreciated in the book blogging world.

Zibilee said...

I just bought this book and now I wish I had read your review first! I, too, had heard nothing but good things all over the place about this book, but it sounds like it will turn out to be a bit creepy. Too bad it wasn't a favorite with you. I am moving it down in the pile.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

I'd like to read this one, but I haven't picked it up yet.

I can see what you mean about the similes (and I hope it was H2O you were chugging each time you heard one!) ... Sometimes I'll read a passage that strikes me as inconsistent (with plot, or the general tone of the writing), and I just can't get past it.

Jen - devourer of books said...

Sorry you didn't really love this book, I didn't even notice that the similes flowed like water ;)

S. Krishna said...

Very interesting review. I'm still planning on reading this book, but I'm going to keep your reservations in mind and temper my expectations!

Melissa said...

I wonder if this one just didn't work on audio for some reason. I remember seeing it on a lot of blogs, but don't remember if anyone else listened to it. I do want to read this one, but will be getting it from the library.