By Candy Gourlay
David Fickling Books, 2011
295 pages. Fiction.
Sixteen year old Bernardo has lived with his aunt in the Philippines his whole life, while his mother, stepfather, and younger sister Andi live in Great Britain. He is finally granted citizenship and comes halfway across the world to live with them. Bernardo has many growing pains to grapple with, including living with a full-time sister, learning a new culture, and being 8 feet tall! In his old village in the Philippines, the people hailed this giant boy as the prophesied, legendary figure who will save their town. So, Bernardo has some guilt about leaving, especially after a massive earthquake devastates the community.
Candy Gourlay has written a very memorable book. Her use of Tagalog and British terms and customs provide for a unique tale. The characters all deal with culture shock and family conflict, but they still have a lot of love and patience for each other. Tall Story is written from both Bernardo's and Andi's points of view, and the stories mesh well. It's definitely great for sport-loving boys, as Andi is a basketball fanatic, and the sport features prominently throughout. There are old legends woven in, but the medical realism of Bernardo's struggle with gigantism (a pituitary dysfunction) is equally interesting.