Review and Giveaway: Tall Story by Candy Gourlay

So I talked about Candy Gourlay’s Tall Story launch in this post over here. I finally got a chance to read my signed copy and I’m excited to share this book with you guys with a giveaway.

Here’s the summary of the book from the official site:

Andi hasn’t seen her brother for eight years and when he steps off the plane from the Philippines, she cannot believe her eyes. He’s tall. EIGHT FOOT TALL.

But Bernardo is not what he seems. Bernardo is a hero, Bernardo works miracles, and Bernardo has an amazing story to tell.

This book is more middle grade or younger YA for me, just to give you guys fair warning. The story is told in alternating perspectives of Bernardo and Andi (real name: Amandolina, such an old school Filipino name). Andi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives in London with her parents. She has a half-brother named Bernardo and he lives in the Philippines. Their mum came to the UK to work as a nurse and that’s when she met Andi’s father, who also works as a nurse. They’ve been trying to get Bernardo to the UK ever since they settled down but the immigration process is taking a long time. Andi can’t wait to meet her brother because she’s crazy about basketball and her mum says Bernardo is tall. Also, basketball is a popular sport in the Philippines so Bernardo must love basketball! Bernardo is sixteen when he receives the news that he can finally go to his family in the UK. The story focuses on Bernardo’s experiences as he adjusts to a new life in a foreign country with a family that he loves but doesn’t really know. Bernardo is tall, awkward and shy but he strives to do all that he can for his friends and family. Andi is a spirited tomboy of a girl and she’s determined to play basketball even if she doesn’t have the height for it. I think it was a good idea to tell the story from both of their points of view because it gives the readers a better idea of the whole situation. It’s easier for us to understand what both of them were going through.

Tall Story is a heartwarming, hilarious tale about friendship and family and how certain bonds can transcend the physical distance. As cheesy as this sounds, I really think this book shows how people can be involved in each other’s lives even if they are continents apart. And this happens all of the time! I have friends and family all over the world and even if I don’t see them that often, I still feel the connection. A lot of you readers and book blogger friends live abroad and even if I haven’t met you in person, I feel like I know you. Isn’t that amazing? Most people have relatives and friends abroad so I have a feeling a lot of us can relate to Bernardo’s story and how hard it is to live away from those you love. I think it’s great that a Filipino author with a young adult book has been published internationally because I’d love for you guys to read this book. It has a wonderful blend of contemporary fiction and Filipino mythology, resulting in a cohesive story that has a lot of heart. Superstition plays a big part in this story because Filipinos are big on superstition, probably more so in the provinces.

I also think Candy Gourlay’s portrayal of Filipinos in foreign countries is pretty accurate. Andi’s mum gets carded whenever she buys wine because she’s such a small person. I’m five foot flat and I had the same problem when I went to the States for a vacation. Whenever I ordered alcohol, the servers would ask for my ID and they couldn’t believe that I was twenty-four years old at that time. They all used to think I was seventeen or younger. Also, Andi doesn’t understand why her mum calls her aunt in the Philippines when they spend most of their time on the phone saying “Hello? Can you hear me? Hello? Hello?” That is EXACTLY how my aunt in the States talks to my grandmother! They use up the call card just saying “Hello.”

Check out this nifty book trailer created by the author’s brother. I find the accents so funny! I mean it’s funny to hear a distinct UK accent side by side with a Filipino accent. Watch it to see what I mean.

All in all, a lovely debut from Candy Gourlay and I’m going to watch out for more of her books. I’m giving away one SIGNED copy of Tall Story to residents of the Philippines. To join, just leave a comment and answer the question: Who is your favorite Asian character? It can be from a book, TV show or movie. Sorry, international friends! International shipping is so expensive but you guys can buy Tall Story from The Book Depository, here. The winner will be randomly chosen using on August 6, Friday.

23 thoughts on “Review and Giveaway: Tall Story by Candy Gourlay

  1. Squee! A giveaway! I wanted to go to the launch but my plans fell awry. After reading your review and Tina’s I want to get a copy of this book, too!

    My favorite Asian character is Shizuku from the Studio Ghibli film Whisper of the Heart. She’s a junior high school student who loves to read. She borrows a lot of books from the library, and one day she notices that all the books she borrows has previously been checked out by a certain Seiji Amasawa. I’ll stop there in case you haven’t seen it yet, but it’s my favorite Studio Ghibli film. The animation is not as flashy as the other Ghibli films (and they are awesome!), but this one really affected me emotionally.

  2. Just like bernardo and Andi there are times that we wish for someone like being a hero or with magical powers, ironically, we can be heroes but not with magical powers, in reality I discover myself dreaming like superman or spiderman but I did during my elementary, highschool, and college days it’s a struggle, fighting with terror teachers and classmates, chasing my girlfriends, working student and the real drama my family / parents who without them I’m not experiencing happiness. From nothing I am now using computers or cellphone that I consider myself as my tools or power to communicate and search for happiness.

    As for my favorite Asian character is Po from the movie Kung Fu Panda. I like him because his cute, cuddling, funny, lazy,loves to eat, kung fu expert, and most especially having a good heart. He was not deserving to be the Chosen One but because of his good heart, He became and defender of his community against kung fu villains.

    I remember in the bible that God sees not the physical but the goodness in our hearts.

  3. Hi Chachic! First, thanks for hosting this book giveaway. One happy reader will win indeed.

    My favorite Asian character is Aang from the hit animated series “Avatar:The Last Airbender.” Sometimes people tend to expect more from us and pin their hopes on us, that’s what makes me relate to Aang’s character. What most people don’t know is he’s just a regular kid who goofs and makes fun around. Yet at the end of the day he, and along his helpful friends, always saves the day. Reality bites, and sometimes we are always hard pressed when people put a label or categorize what kind of person we are, either good or bad, etc. But what’s important for me is to be a hero in somebody’s eyes, inspiring them to be more what they can be and in every situation do the best they can.

  4. Ohh! Another giveaway!~~ This is actually the first time I’ve come across a Pinoy YA, and I’m mighty glad for it!

    This might be a wee bit peculiar but I love Midori from Norwegian Wood. There’s something about the way Murakami presented her that pulled me in. 🙂

  5. My favorite Asian character is Julie Kikuchi of Middlesex. (I know she’s just a minor character in the book, but I still like her.) In the book, she was described as someone with a different perspective on things. Though somehow filled with self-doubt, she is one of the most human characters I’ve read and/or watched.

  6. Nice review, I hope to read this book!

    I had a mental block when I first tried to think of an Asian character. But I would have to say my favorite is Hiro Nakamura of the TV show Heroes.:D

  7. thank you for the great review! and i can’t resist joining in your game! my favourite asian character has got to be hiro nakamura of Heroes … and if its filipino characers we’re talking about, i loved magnifico in the movie magnifico and maximo in the blossoming of maximo oliveros – both written by a brilliant Pinoy author with a very unPinoy name: Michiko Yamamoto.

  8. i’m gonna cheat and say: the Sanggres of Encantadia

    I loved Encantadia the series because it pushed boundaries for local television–and how the series is about love, but not the usual love we’re fed night after night on local TV. And I loved how each character (though some were poorly acted) were all fleshed out and have amazing back stories that can really be seen on screen (regardless of the poor acting).

    You have Amihan, the reluctant queen who keeps getting tested by the fates. First she “usurps” the throne from her power-hungry older sister, then she must “steal” the man her younger sister loved–because the gods said so. she never wavers from her principles, and manages to do what is expected of her while sticking with her beliefs–and even manages to reunite with her sisters.

    You have Pirena the unwanted, whose only wish was to be loved by the mother who always, albeit unconsciously, loved her younger sisters better. Her journey is the most challenging: beginning with being tainted by an evil blood and raised by a spy, becoming antagonistic to the sisters who only wanted the best for her, falling in love only to be fooled, making amends–and then finding out the reason why her mother was always a little fearful of her, and finally, having to be the one to kill her father in the end.

    You have Alena the meek, she was the one who understood the power of forgiveness and the power of unconditional love–and then she was tested by having her son taken from her, raised without her, and then killed just as they reunited; the only one who never became queen (technically, she did, but she never became a ruling queen), but was content with just standing on the sides.

    And then you have Danaya, who no one really expected much from–but who rises to the challenge of becoming an untrained queen, and leading a new golden age for their land; she who learned to adapt to a new world, and broke barriers by choosing who to love, instead of waiting for who the gods choose for her.

    I could go on and on about these characters, but this is too long already, I think. They are the ones who made me believe in local television again–and that makes them my favorite characters.


  9. Hi, Chachic!

    Hmm…favorite Asian character from books, TV, or movies?

    I’d like to say that the irrepresible Monkey King from Chinese mythology, and, though it shows my age, The Drunken Master portrayed by Jackie Chan when he was younger. 🙂

  10. Wow! A giveaway! I’ll give it a try. The book Tall Story seems an awesome book to read.

    My Favorite Asian Character is Alex Trese from my favorite comics, Trese by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo. She’s a bad-ass chick who ends the evil activities of the underground creatures that scared us when we were kids (lol I think I’m still scared of them in some ways). I hope Mr. Budjette picked up a nice lady to portray Trese in the movie they planned!

  11. My fave character is Aang after I saw The Last Airbender he is so cool wow I admire him wish I have his power and would be lovely to win this book

  12. My favorite asian character is Amelita from Titser, a filipino book. When she was still at college he have a crush on his professor and when he graduated they got married. Despite of her mother disagreement they continue to love each other. An accident happened that made her mother accept Mauro to their family

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