Wednesday, October 7, 2009

THE GIANT'S HOUSE by Elizabeth McCracken

The Giant's House is subtitled A Romance, and it really is an unusual love story. Peggy Cort is a young librarian who really doesn't like people. Then she meets 12-year-old James Sweatt, who is off-the-charts tall. As James keeps growing, so does Peggy's attachment to him, and by the time he reaches adolescence, she realizes that she's in love with him. We discover early in the book that he will die young and that his size presents a plethora of health problems, makes him accident-prone, and probably renders him impotent. He is also unable to do the simplest things that most of us take for granted, such as traveling by airplane, buying department-store clothes, or walking in town unnoticed. I loved this book, not just for the tender story and doomed characters, but also for the lovely tidbits that the author scatters throughout. In one scene, Peggy and James's aunt/guardian Caroline are sorting laundry and discussing mismatched socks. The lamenting of socks having lost their mates and being introduced to another abandoned sock is obviously a metaphor for James and Peggy, both misfits in very different ways. Another is near the end when Peggy concludes that library books, unlike purchased books that are monogamous with their buyer, are promiscuous, being caressed by anyone who asks.

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