Saturday, February 21, 2009



by Tiffany Baker


Since Wally Lamb gave us Dolores Price in SHE’S COME UNDONE, I have yearned for a character like Truly Plaice and now thanks to Tiffany Baker’s superbly imaginative and captivating writing, we have a ‘little giant’ to root for. This book is sheer magic in so many ways as we follow the painfully poignant journey of our heroine, Truly, in a life filled with contrasts: tragedy and small wonders, sorrow and delight, triumph and tragedy.

Aberdeen County, in rural New York State, is a character in itself as the setting plays into the story in general. This is a small town where everyone is connected in some way either as a family member or through marriage. Of course, in a place such as this, everyone knows each other’s business as well. And Truly Plaice didn’t enter this town quietly but rather as BIG news!

Lily Plaice was expecting her second child in 1953 and was so large during her pregnancy that the townspeople made wagers on how big the baby would be. However, none of the citizens of Aberdeen County were quite prepared for how huge this baby girl really was. Least of which were her parents because Lily Plaice couldn’t handle the size of this baby and she died giving birth to her.

As the narrator of the story, Truly describes how her father was totally unprepared to take care of two young children-herself and older sister, Serena. Due to a pituitary gland deformity, Truly grows larger each day and when she was old enough to realize she was different, there was no sympathetic parent to help her cope with this odd medical condition. Her father is hateful towards her and verbalizes that it was her fault her mother died trying to “push her out”. Truly hopes for an escape when she starts school but instead, she gains her nickname on the first day when the teacher says to her, “You’re a Little Giant”.

Serena and Truly are separated when their father dies and the girls go to live with other families. Serena, pretty and “normal” looking, goes to live with a very rich family while Truly is sent to live on a farm with a very poor family. Amanda Pickerton and her minister husband take in Serena and they adore her and treat her like a doll. Truly was sent to a broken down farm owned by the Dyerson family where she grew to love working outside and with the farm horses. Truly had only two friends, unusual in their own ways, young Amelia Dyerson and a quick minded boy named Marcus. He was a whiz at remembering details. This group made up a pathetic existence for Truly.

Meanwhile, Serena Jane's future seems to be going very well until Bob Bob Morgan comes along. He is the youngest of the Morgan family who have been the town’s doctor for what seems like forever. The Morgan family history goes far back in Aberdeen and the first Morgan supposedly married the town witch, Tabitha Dyerson. Tabitha’s secret book of mysterious forces is said to be hidden and it supposedly contains secrets for healing and other mystifying spells. When Serena abandons her son to escape the cruelty of Bob Bob, she leaves Truly to care for her eight-year-old nephew Bobbie, under the hateful eye of her brother-in-law. Bob Bob criticizes Truly because of her body size and degrades her. However, it is in this part of the setting that Truly discovers her fate. She finds a family quilt filled with old family secrets that lead to GIGANTIC changes in Aberdeen County. From healing potions to life saving emotions, Truly shows she can take the good with the bad and just when you think you have this tale figured out, something else changes to keep you interested until the very end! This little giant of a book by Tiffany Baker is highly recommended and leaves all who have read it looking forward to the next work of Ms. Baker!