As we head into the holiday weekend, here’s a debut novel to help you celebrate … Tall Story is as multi-layered as its clever title, filled with adventure, magic realism, a dual family saga thousands of miles apart, not to mention one heck of a basketball game!
Andi and Bernardo are half-siblings who at first couldn’t be more unlike. Andi is tiny, “barely a teenager” at 13, lives in London with her Filipino mother and her British father, and dreams of playing point guard on her school basketball team. She’s met her older brother just once. Bernardo is 16, has lived his entire life in a small village in the Philippines where he was raised by an aunt and uncle. Mum Mary Ann, suddenly widowed with an infant, moved to London to take the one job that might help pay off the “gazillions” she owed in hospital bills. Her intention was to send for Bernardo as soon as she was settled, but life didn’t work out that way … while she waited 16 years for Bernardo’s immigration papers, she married Andi’s father and had Andi, but visited as often as she could.
Now Bernardo is finally reunited with his family in London. And Andi had no clue that her big brother would turn out to be 8 feet TALL. The medical term for his condition is Gigantism, but Bernardo has grown up with enchanted legends and frightening curses that explain his height otherwise … and he’s plagued by guilt for leaving his Filipino family and friends behind. The initial reunion isn’t exactly easy, and Andi can’t help but be disappointed that her Velcro-suited, socks-with-size-22-sandals-garbed big brother is so different from what she had expected, wished for, dreamed about …
Told in alternating chapters by both siblings, Tall Story is one of those heart-thumping, sigh-inducing tales that will infuse you with just the right glowing satisfaction as you turn that final page. From crumbling ceilings to magic stones to rabid dogs to sleeping giants to a surprising rogue teacher willing to break a few rules, Candy Gourlay has definitely concocted one remarkable tall story that just might make you believe in magic. Slam dunk ahead!
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult