The Girl Giant: A Novel

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

Ruth Brennan is a giant, “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 others—their past traumas, their present fears, and the people they might become, if only they have courage enough.
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About the author

Kristen den Hartog is a novelist and memoir writer. Her previous novels are Water Wings, The Perpetual Ending, which was a finalist for the Toronto Book Award, and Origin of Haloes. The Occupied Garden: A Family Memoir of War-torn Holland was written with her sister, Tracy Kasaboski, and was a Toronto Globe and Mail Notable Book of 2008. She also writes a blog, Blog of Green Gables (http://blogofgreengables.wordpress.com/), about her experiences reading children’s literature with her daughter. She lives in Toronto with her family.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Jun 12, 2012
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Pages
240
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ISBN
9781451656183
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / General
Fiction / Historical / General
Fiction / Literary
Fiction / Thrillers / Suspense
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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"Shelter is domestic drama at its best, a gripping narrative of secrets and revelations that seized me from beginning to end."—Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-Winning author of The Sympathizer

One of The Millions' Most Anticipated Books of the Year (Selected by Edan Lepucki)
Now BuzzFeed's #1 Most Buzzed About Book of 2016 So Far
Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

Kyung Cho is a young father burdened by a house he can’t afford. For years, he and his wife, Gillian, have lived beyond their means. Now their debts and bad decisions are catching up with them, and Kyung is anxious for his family’s future.

A few miles away, his parents, Jin and Mae, live in the town’s most exclusive neighborhood, surrounded by the material comforts that Kyung desires for his wife and son. Growing up, they gave him every possible advantage—private tutors, expensive hobbies—but they never showed him kindness. Kyung can hardly bear to see them now, much less ask for their help. Yet when an act of violence leaves Jin and Mae unable to live on their own, the dynamic suddenly changes, and he’s compelled to take them in. For the first time in years, the Chos find themselves living under the same roof. Tensions quickly mount as Kyung’s proximity to his parents forces old feelings of guilt and anger to the surface, along with a terrible and persistent question: how can he ever be a good husband, father, and son when he never knew affection as a child?

As Shelter veers swiftly toward its startling conclusion, Jung Yun leads us through dark and violent territory, where, unexpectedly, the Chos discover hope. Shelter is a masterfully crafted debut novel that asks what it means to provide for one's family and, in answer, delivers a story as riveting as it is profound.

From a “perceptive writer whose work makes us painfully aware of our human follies and acknowledges our lovely humanity” (Audrey Niffenegger, bestselling author of The Time Traveler’s Wife) comes suspenseful novel about a missing girl whose disappearance rocks her community.

Six years after the traumatic disappearance of Etta Messenger, it's clear that none of the members of her middle-class family have finished mourning. Gaping emotional wounds have been poorly addressed. Etta's mother, Meg, anxious to find closure and make what she can of the rest of her life, has organized a memorial service to mark the painful anniversary. Newton, Etta's erstwhile high school sweetheart, a disabled Afghanistan veteran with anger issues, uses the impending anniversary as a convenient excuse to spin out of control. Charlie, Etta's earnest blue-collar father, takes stock of his life and is reminded how he failed to protect his daughter. Her younger brother, Townes, who was the last of them to see Etta and is convinced his emotional outburst drove his sister away, has his fragile hermetic cocoon threatened by the heightened emotions of the day.

On the day of the memorial, a snowstorm threatens the city, and a chance observation on a commuter train entangles Townes in a dangerous situation that recall the events surrounding Etta's loss. The characters are shaken from their mournful routines by an unrelenting chain of events, including Newton's arrest, Townes' dangerous heroics, Charlie's recognition of his own shortcomings, and Meg's shocking discovery. The action moves from the seemingly serene suburbs to the heart of a dangerous Chicago neighborhood.

Will this ensemble of damaged characters pull themselves together in time, or will new stresses rip their tattered lives to shreds...
The Occupied Garden is the powerful true story of a market gardener and his fiercely devout wife who were living a simple life in Holland when the Nazis invaded in 1940. During the subsequent occupation, Gerrit and Cor den Hartog struggled to keep their young family from starving and from being broken up in an era of intimidation, disappearances, and bombings -- until one devastating day when they found they were unable to protect their children from the war.

It wasn't until long after Gerrit and Cor's deaths that their granddaughters began to piece their story together; combing through Dutch archives, family lore, and a neighbor's wartime diary, den Hartog and Kasaboski have lovingly and seamlessly recreated their grandparents' wartime years. The result is an extraordinary tale of strife and hardship that contains moments of breathtaking courage -- a young mother's bicycle journey of two hundred miles to find food for her children, a brother and sister's desperate escape into unoccupied France, a pastor forced into hiding for encouraging acts of resistance -- with a cast of characters that includes the exiled Dutch royal family, Adolf Hitler, Franklin Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill. But it is Gerrit and Cor who take center stage in what is ultimately a deeply moving love story of a man and woman who drew strength from each other throughout those difficult years.

Poignant and unforgettable, The Occupied Garden is a testament to the resiliency of ordinary people living in an extraordinary time, written by two sisters determined to keep their family history alive.

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