Monday, 5 July 2010
Review: Tall Story by Candy Gourlay
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Released: May 27th, 2010
Grade rating: B/B+
Andi is short. And she has lots of wishes. She wishes she could play on the school basketball team, she wishes for her own bedroom, but most of all she wishes that her long lost half brother, Bernardo, could come and live in London, where he belongs. Then Andi's biggest wish comes true and she's minutes away from becoming someone's little sister. As she waits anxiously for Bernardo to arrive from the Philippines, she hopes he'll turn out to be tall and just as mad as she is about basketball. When he finally arrives, he's tall all right. But he's not just tall... he's a GIANT.
When I started reading Tall Story, I wasn't sure what to expect, as the summary doesn't give much away. What I wasn't ready for was a lovely story of friendship and family, with an emotional twist and characters that I was rooting for from the beginning.
Bernardo is a big friendly giant, who doesn't have a bad bone in his awe-inspiring large body. He's so thoughtful and innocent, and definitely stole the show for me. Between his feelings for his family and his desire to help everyone he can, he really is BFG in every sense of the word. Flashbacks to his younger teen years are used to illustrate his hardships and changes, and they work brilliantly with the present day goings-on. Andi is also a great personality, who evolves as the book progresses. She opens her mind to Bernardo and their familial attachment and, instead of treating him as an outcast, she welcomes him into her life and eventually sees him as a brother.
I know this review doesn't really tell you anything, but I don't want to ruin your reading experience of this book - you just have to go with it and see how it unfolds. While I enjoyed it a lot, I still feel like something was missing, though I'm not sure what. I can't pick anything I didn't particularly like or anything that could have been done better, it just didn't wow me as much as other books have.
Tall Story is a subtle debut from Gourlay, and one that I think will resonate with a lot of readers. I'm interested to see what this author comes up with next, as her ideas are definitely on the thoughtful side of things, and are deserving of the attention they've received so far.