The Girl Giant

A Novel

The Girl Giant

A critically acclaimed bestseller in Canada, The Girl Giant is “emotionally exquisite and heartfelt”  (The Globe and Mail)—a gorgeous and moving literary novel about a girl whose affliction gives her the mysterious power to see into the dark secrets of her family’s past and present.

“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.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 240 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451656176 | 
  • June 2012
List Price $15.99
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Read an Excerpt

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Girl Giant includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Kristen den Hartog. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Part coming of age story, part portrait of a marriage, The Girl Giant is set just after World War II and tells the story of Ruth—a young girl who quickly and inexplicably grows into a giant. An only child and an outcast among her peers, Ruth spends much of her time alone. But Ruth possesses an extraordinary gift: a mysterious insight into the inner lives of those around her, including her parents who struggle to protect their giantess daughter from the constant stares and whisperings of the world, while wrestling with the trauma of their own pasts. At once heartbreaking and uplifting, The Girl Giant explores the complexity of difference. 

Topics & Questions for Discussion 

1. Early on in The Girl Giant Ruth says, “But something good can come from even the most terrifying things. For everything that is taken away, something else is given.” Do you agree? Discuss examples from the novel.
2. Is there somethi see more

About the Author

Kristen den Hartog
Photograph by Jeff Winch

Kristen den Hartog

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 (, about her experiences reading children’s literature with her daughter. She lives in Toronto with her family.