Favorites: The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken

29 Apr

This unconventional love story is beautiful, and one of my favorites.  Peggy, a lonely twenty-six year old librarian, narrates the novel, describing the long, slow process of falling in love with the town giant, James.  Peggy meets James when he’s just eleven, and through their love of books they first become friends, and then ultimately lovers.  Both are socially isolated – Peggy because she lets no one in, James because, despite his friendliness, his physicality and medical problems make it difficult to form lasting bonds.

There’s something about their relationship that you don’t see depicted in books very often.  The relationship is based very much on need, rather than want or lust. This isn’t a one-note chick lit romance where girl meets boy, fireworks explode, and they live happily ever after in a permanent state of love-at-first sight.

And their relationship changes over time.  As James grows up, he needs different things from their friendship, and so does Peggy.  And their relationship evolves.  Their relationship changes to accomodate James’s adolescence, his growing circle of friends, Peggy’s desire to be more than a librarian.

More than that, the things they need are different.  Their relationship is uneven.  Sometimes, Peggy needs more than James.  She needs consistent companionship, someone to ease her loneliness,  sex.  Later, James needs more than Peggy.  He needs someone to care for him, explain how to navigate the high school social dynamic, someone to see him, rather than his size.  While the age gap and James’s stature make their relationship unusual; the fact that their relationship works despite differing expectations feels real.  Both parties in a relationship don’t usually want, or even expect, the sames things from their partner. It’s refreshing to see that in a book.

Also, I tend to be drawn to books about types of people who’s lives I want to know more about (conjoined twins, giants, etc.), and this book does a great job explaining the medical issues, and daily logistical struggles, that come with being giant.  Overall, if you’re looking for a wry, sweet, non-traditional romance written in a beautifully distinctive style, I highly recommend it.

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2 Responses to “Favorites: The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken”

  1. mollyspring April 29, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    I’ve never heard of this one but it sounds delightful. Will have to check it out!

  2. alenaslife May 4, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    I haven’t thought of this book in ages. Thank you for the reminder of how much I liked it.

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