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"Heartbreaking and exhilarating."
―Ursula Hegi
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"A magical, wonderful novel like no other."
―2012 Trillium Book Award jury

Novel by Kristen den Hartog published in 2012. It has different names depending on the country:

  • Canada: And Me Among Them (originally).
  • USA: The Girl Giant (more known).

It was a best-seller in Canada, so you could say that this work was the author's opus magnum.

Synopsis (without spoilers)

"Something good can come from even the most terrifying things. For eve y thing that is taken away, something else is given."

Ruth Frances Beatrice Brennan is a giantess, "a rare, organic blunder pressed into a dollhouse world," as she calls herself.

Growing up in a small town, where even an ordinary person can't simply fade into the background, there is no hiding the fact that Ruth is different: she can see it in the eyes of everyone around her, even her own parents.

James and Elspeth Brennan are emotionally at sea, struggling with the devastation wrought on their lives by World War II and with their unspoken terror that the daughter they love may, like so much else, one day be taken away from them.

But fate works in strange ways, and Ruth finds that for all the things that go unsaid around her, she is nonetheless able to see deeply into the secret hearts of otherstheir past traumas, their present fears, and the people they might become, if only they have courage enough.

A critically acclaimed bestseller in Canada, The Girl Giant is "emotionally exquisite and heartfelt" (The Globe and Mail)a gorgeous and moving literary novel about a girl whose affliction gives her the mysterious power to see into the dark secrets of her family's past and present.

Set just after World War II, The Girl Giant tells the story of Ruth, an immensely sympathetic young girl who is quickly and inexplicably growing into a giantess.

An only child and an outcast among her peers, Ruth spends much of her time alone. "I stood alone on the playground as the swings flew and the monkey bars filled up with children. My hands reached almost to my knees; I was all wrong, out of proportion."

But Ruth possesses a gift, a strange second sight. Through it, she glimpses the inner lives of her parents, who struggle to protect their daughter from the world while also wrestling with the traumas of their own pasts. Each was dramatically changed by the events of World War II, and Ruth senses much more than they realize about these devastating events.

At once heartbreaking and uplifting, The Girl Giant is part coming-of-age story, part portrait of a marriagea novel made extraordinary by its fascinating protagonist and den Hartog's enthralling, lyrical prose.

About its author: Kristen den Hartog

Kristen-den-Hartog-author-photo-Jeff-Winch

Kristen den Hartog.

In her official profile of goodreads, she describes herself as follows:

I’m Kristen den Hartog, the author of And Me Among Them, published in the U.S. as The Girl Giant. My earlier novels include Water Wings, The Perpetual Ending, and Origin of Haloes. My first non-fiction book, The Occupied Garden: A Family Memoir of War-torn Holland, was written with my sister, Tracy Kasaboski, and explores the life of our father’s family during the Second World War. I’m currently at work on another collaboration with my sister, this time about our mother’s family in Edwardian London’s poorest neighbourhoods. I live in Toronto with my husband and daughter and our two beagle-ish dogs.

Trivia

  • The name "The Girl Giant" is strange in the English language, because:
    • The adjetive (giant) is to the right of the noun (girl). So most correctly would be "The giant girl".
    • She used the word giant instead giantess, something strange coming from someone who speaks English.
      • It follows that she does not participate in the Internet's GTS community.
  • Its author claims to have been inspired by other works related to fictional giants, because she probably belongs to the MACRO community for artistic reasons.

Sources

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