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Monday, April 11, 2011

"Tall Story"

by Candy Gourlay, YR, 2010, 296p, rating=5

"What you want is not always what you get.  Even when your wishes come true.  Andi desperately hopes her long-lost half brother, Bernardo, will be as crazy about basketball as she is.  But when he steps off the plane from the Philippines, she can't believe her eyes.  She hasn't seen him for ten year, but even so, how did he get to be EIGHT FEET TALL?  This eight-foot-tall boy is about to crash into her life with his size 22 feet.  But Bernardo is not what he seems.  Bernardo is a hero, Bernardo works miracles, and Bernardo has amazing story to tell." (book's blurb)
I had high hopes for this little fat book and when I read this blurb (which doesn't do the book justice), it had me thinking that it was going to be just another run of the mill culture shock story so I braced myself for a disappointment.  Then I began reading and it was a page turner!  The warm characters and sweet storyline had me charmed, laughing, cheering, and fighting back tears ... the ingredients for an unforgettable heartwarming tale.

This was particularly meaningful to me because it gave a glimpse of Filipino culture, particularly regarding close-knit family relationships, superstitions, and faith.  This was successfully conveyed by tackling with heart dichotomies such as need vs want, superstition vs science, real vs magic, and of course, short vs tall.  More importantly, the characters (main and supporting) themselves were dynamic.  I absolutely felt that I was walking in their shoes!  And in this case, I did similarly walk in Bernardo's ...just 16 sizes smaller!  I too am an immigrant and assimilated to a secondary home.

I did notice a slight awkwardness/confusing writing but the powerful charm of the story had me pardon that blemish.  Hence, this was a wonderful young reader book debut.  I'd vote it for a Newbery Award or the like.

Unfortunately, I'm not a gifted writer so I didn't do this book much justice either but my friend Jzhun did so please check out his eloquent summary and review on his blog, Dark Chest of Wonders (he didn't pay me to put this plug).  He's an incredibly apt writer and never ceases to amaze me!  So if you're serious about in depth reviews; readers follow him and authors have him review your book.

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