Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review: Tall Story by Candy Gourlay

Tall Story, published by David Fickling Books in May 2010 (in Feb. 2011 in U.S.)
Author: Candy Gourlay

I was intrigued by Tall Story as soon as I heard of it, because while I am not as tall as Bernardo in the story, I am taller than most (6' 6 1/2", or 2m for you metric folks). Additionally, I am very eager to find books that explore diversity and acceptance in various manifestations.

The story is shared between Andi, a 13 yeaar-old girl who lives in London, and Bernardo, her giant 16 year-old half-brother, who lives in the Philippines with his aunt until the government gives him permission to leave. This wait has dragged on for years. Andi and Bernardo have pretty much given up hope that he will ever come to live with their mother and her new husband in London.

But just when Andi and Bernardo seem to have settled into their respective lives, Andi playing basketball with a passion and Bernardo learning to cope with his new height, things start happening very quickly. Soon, both are disrupted and stranded in new situations that force them to rethink their views of themselves and others.

This parallel storytelling, with chapters alternating between Andi and Bernardo in first person, is both powerful and a little confusing. While each chapter is clearly labeled, it is easy to forget and be perplexed for a half page about whose perspective you are in. On the other hand, this helps to reinforce the sense that the dislocations in Andi's life are as potent and real to her as Bernardo's are to him. Throughout it all, there is a magic realism that pervades Bernardo's old village, but seems to travel with him around the world.

A fascinating story with clear and appealing characters, I would strongly recommend to both boys and girls. A strong sports theme makes this especially interesting for sports-oriented kids, although most others would like it as well.

Four stars out of five.

Buy 'Tall Story' on Amazon.com
Buy 'Tall Story' on Amazon.co.uk


  1. thanks so much for the kind review, ben! i did worry that two perspectives might be confusing but i wanted the reader to get into the head of each character - and know that you can't judge a person by the outside appearances.

  2. Excellent. Diversity=the spice of life. =) I remember those awkward days of towering over all the other kids in my grade. *shudders* I suppose that's more acceptable for boys than girls.

  3. Candy - I thought the two perspectives were important, and maybe others register the chapter titles (which clearly label the person) better than I do. I think I tend to ignore chapter titles.

    Anyway, great book. Thanks for writing it, and thanks for stopping by. I love it when authors stop by and say hello.