Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Alice Hoffman seems to like misfits. This book has both an outrageously tall man, Eddie, and a 4-year-old boy, Simon, who is not growing at the normal rate. The little boy's parents are Andre, who restores motorcycles, and Vonny, a potter. Next door, Jody, a headstrong teenager, has moved in with her grandmother, Elizabeth Renny, who has recently acted on her belief that she can fly. Oddly enough, Elizabeth's and Jody's cohabitation is the best thing that could have happened to either of them. Jody develops a crush on Andre, of which he's fully aware, and Vonny develops agoraphobia and is afraid to leave her house. Vonny's disorder is a mixed bag for Andre, as he can't decide whether to bask in Vonny's dependence on him or to make an effort to help her overcome it. It also has mixed results with Simon, who suddenly starts getting taller as Vonny has to relinquish some of her over-protectiveness. After toying with a series of boys her own age in order to make Andre jealous, Jody falls for "the giant," who avoids being seen during the daytime. His life has some parallels, in fact, with Vonny's, as they are both restricted in their contact with the outside world but due to very different types of fear. A tragedy befalls this island community, and Simon, who has been heretofore shielded from the word "death," suddenly has to bear a very heavy burden of guilt and grief, especially for such a young child. I would say, though, that fear—of the dark, of ridicule, of abandonment—is the predominant theme here. There are many ways to deal with it—repress it, outgrow it, or seek help to conquer it.

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