The Girl Giant is the story of Ruth, a girl who grows significantly larger than other people, told in first person. Her mother, Elspeth, came to Canada after meeting Ruth’s father, James in England during World War II. James and Elspeth lead a quiet, normal life until they realize their daughter is growing at an abnormally fast pace. Though Ruth requires handmade shoes, frequent altering of her clothes and reconstruction of their home, her parents have never pursued the idea that something may be physically wrong with their child.
Ruth tells her story from the time she was forming in her mother’s womb until sometime after the question about her condition is resolved during her teens. She is somehow able to see into the thoughts and memories of her parents as a way to convey information to the reader. Still, there are times when James and Elspeth tell the reader pieces of their own lives that Ruth knows nothing about. The combination is somewhat confusing and disjointed.
The small details of Ruth’s growth do present a complex picture of her condition. There are several references to other giants in history and the considerably harsh ways they were treated throughout the ages. The cruelty they endured is a blatant contrast to the fact that people rarely bother to notice Ruth.
Aside from her physical condition, Ruth is a flat protagonist and few of the other characters are particularly interesting. This may initially appear to be a negative, but it is actually a very smart way to suggest her excessive physical growth may have inhibited her mental and intellectual progress. Indirectly introducing the idea is strong enough to make the reader wonder.
The Girl Giant plods along at times, yet there is a sense of having read a subtly profound account of how it might feel to walk in Ruth’s extra-large, handmade shoes once the final page has been turned.
Kathie is a writer, wife, mother and volunteer living in the beautiful Appalachian mountains. Her passion for the written word is fulfilled by creating her own fictional work, freelancing, acting as an adviser to another author, and reading with her six year old daughter.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.