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The Tiny One: A Novel Paperback – October 17, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In The Tiny One Eliza Minot takes over what used to be her sister Susan's territory--just the way a younger sibling should. Territory in this case means a large, happy, Catholic family--the Reveres--that lives in Massachusetts, spends summers in Maine, and is lucky enough to have love to spare. All of this normality and stability, however, is changed by the death of Mrs. Revere--"Mum" as she is called throughout. What makes Minot's more than just another novel about a death in the family is the fact that it's written entirely from the perspective of the youngest Revere, Via. "Mum's dead forever," she says in the sentiment-free tones of a child grappling with death. "Mum's dead forever and the world's all different, roomy and huge."

"I can't stop thinking about the day that it happened," Via tells us. "The day before yesterday.... The day was like other days and then it happened. I want to think about it so much that I also don't want to think about it." What follows is her account of the day her mother was killed in a car accident, interpolated with memories from and impressions of her young life. Minot makes the trappings of early childhood come alive. Everything from wanting to fit in at school ("I like the fish sticks better but I pretend that I like the pizza as much as everyone else does." "I like social studies but I pretend I don't because everyone else doesn't") to a multitude of the kind of fanciful observations that form the backbone of childish delight in the world. Here, for example, she comments on waiting in line for lunch: "The cinder-block walls are painted yellow and when I run my finger along the track between each block it's smooth and fits perfectly like I've made the line with my finger on frosting."

We have to leave Via at the beginning of what we, as adults, know will be a long road, which might be heartbreaking if she weren't such a sensitive child. Early on she poses a series of questions: "But where do all the things she thinks go? And if I die when I'm eighty and I go to heaven, how old will I be when I see her? Older than her? Where do all of when she thinks of me go?" Obviously there are no answers, but it's somehow comforting to get to know Minot's little sage. It instills a kind of faith that seems to promise she'll make it through by asking the right questions, answers or no answers. --Melanie Rehak --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Chronicling the same family dynamics and pivotal events as her sister Susan Minot in Monkeys, Eliza Minot makes an impressive debut with this moving novel of a close-knit family disrupted by a sudden, tragic death. The remarkably true voice of eight-year-old Via Mahoney Revere is Minot's triumph here, as the stunned child tries to absorb the fact that her beloved mother has died in a car accident. In a trance of disjointed sorrow, Via retraces the fateful day, recalling the routine progression of her fourth grade classes to the moment when she hears the news. One memory triggers another, flooding her mind with incidents ranging through her secure and protected childhood. Through the layers of episodic recollection emerges a clear and textured picture of a comfortable upper-middle-class Catholic family living in a Massachusetts coastal town, spending summers on an island in Maine, skiing in New Hampshire and sunning in Bermuda. Mum is vibrantly present in all of Via's memories, a tender and actively affectionate maternal figure who jokes with her kids in easy vernacular. Via is the last born of four siblings, and the smallest. Still young enough for kisses and squeezes, she is enveloped in a warm cocoon of loving care; "small fry," her mother calls her fondly, and "pint-sized." The bedrock of credibility here, and the source of the book's emotional truth, is Minot's ability to recall a child's fresh sensory perceptions. Abundant humor suffuses the mixture of wonder and bewilderment with which Via tries to interpret the world, and her childish opinions about cereal box prizes and TV cartoons and why she loves pickles. Yet we never forget that a child awakened to grief is summoning these comforting memories as solace. Minot's prose pulses with similes and graceful images. To Via, the ocean on a hot day "looks like dried paint that a ball would bounce on." The reader's emotional response rises as the chapters progress toward the moment when Via's life will suffer the irrevocable blow. In its poignant denouement, this narrative of domestic happiness and heartrending grief culminates in a radiant vision of eternal love. 5-city reading tour. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (October 17, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037570633X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375706332
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,636,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Eliza Minot is a wonderfully sensitive and talented new writer. Her story of an intelligent seven year old, reflecting on the loss of her mother, has no false note, or even a tinge of patronising sentiment. She tells the story straight, and with a very clear eye. Her heroine is a child of character and humor. And you know from the start that she will grow to be a superior woman, like her mother.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
An incredibly simple, honest book about mother/daughter love, hope after death, childhood wonders and fears. Via is real - so real with Minot's clear pictures, I went back to grade school and childhood family life with her. Beautifully written, compelling, crystal clear and honest, it's an amazing first novel.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
What a great read... evokes all the feelings that a book about an eight year old losing her mother should evoke, but without the morbidity. Great characterizations-I fell in the love with the whole family. The narrative is from the viewpoint of the child, Via, as she relives the memories of the day that her mother was killed in a car accident. Within the memories of that single day are "stream of consciousness" type thoughts of events and impressions from her earlier childhood. It was engrossing enough that I wanted to read it during one sitting... and I'll definitely be reading it again.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By S. K. Boyar on December 13, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Eliza Minot has given us another literary child to love. In this remarkable debut novel Via Revere comes to life as she plumbs the depths of her eight year old consciousness in an attempt to hold on to her mother who has just died in a car accident. Through her eyes we meet a large, boisterous, wonderful, yet imperfect family as they exist before and immediately after the catastrophe. Via, a remarkably bright, perceptive and articulate individual is still a child, but by novel's end , a very experienced one. Although the subject matter is heart wrenching, the joy in Via's vision sustains us.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mari V. on March 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
Is there anything in this world more pure than the LOVE which exists between a mother and her child?
This book is the story of Via, an eight year old girl who just lost her mother. It could have been a very sad book, but surprisingly it isn't. It is however a book about family, happiness, LOVE, Childhood memories, dreams, wishes and wonders, and especially about Mum.
One of the things I liked most about the book was that it really felt as if an eight year old was telling the story, and, for a few moments I was allowed to go inside her mind and her heart. Through her account of what was probably the worst day of her young life she makes you laugh, cry, sing, dance and above all... REMEMBER.... you go back to being a child, when everything was simple, when anything made you laugh, and where just hugging your mother made everything alright.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
One of the best books I have read this year! The Tiny One captures so well the heart of a young girl, the book could have been written by a child. Minot has a keen eye for the inner depths of a child's wisdom. The book is not so much about the death of this poor girl's Mum, but about the loving memories she has shared with her that have shaped her heart and soul. Conversations between young Via and her Mum are so tangible you feel as though you have witnessed them. You grow in just a few pages to appreciate and love the relationship between mother and child, making the knowledge that Mum is gone that much more heartbreaking. This book does not allow you to be a bystander. You must participate in the relationship forged through chapters of bonding between Mum and Via. They are so much the essence of love, that when Via finally accepts her Mums death, she knows her Mum is still with her, in little fragments and sparkles. Minot is incredibly accurate in depicting the heart of a child, and the voice of Via is a loud, strong, memorable force. The relationship Via had with her Mum is a strong memory in all readers minds, helping to keep her alive.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By TawnTawn on June 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
for the ending. A much-loved child's memories of her mother in an almost perfect family. Heart-warming, touching, and all of that, but the ending was suddenly very unrealistic. Via's mom is dead, but she knows SHE'S going to be okay. Not too upset at all, ready for her next adventure in life as a newly motherless, self-sufficient child. My mother died when I was nine, and this wasn't my reaction at all. So not a very credible ending in my opinion.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Another great book from a Minot. A super "warm & fuzzy" book with out being blatently "warm and fuzzy". If you love coming of age books, this is a great, poignant one. I'd suggest reading the acknowledgements at the end, as it provides some hope for a life lived happily ever after which I found myself wanting confirmation of for this wonderful character. Hope Minot will write a next one which will be as good!
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