Midget: or Symphony of the Ocean
by Kate Valery
Trafford Publishing

"'I’m not an animal, not a slave, not a doll. I’m a spiritual being, and I am free.'"

Jim is born mentally capable but handicapped by his tiny stature. He's raised by kind Ukrainian farmers who provide for his many needs and nurture his musical talents. When his adoptive grandma dies, he moves to a group home run by "Mrs. Monster" Mona. She takes advantage of Jim and other residents sexually and financially. Lada, the home's bus driver, falls in love with Jim after hearing his piano playing and compositions. During the planning and performance of Jim's masterpiece, Symphony of the Ocean, which Lada helps execute, these two lovers and several other friends also plot to bring Mona to justice.

The book's candid dialogue, comprising almost half the text, evokes Jim's captivating music, which "was breathing with this deep, endless love." The characters express themselves succinctly and assertively, and their actions bear out their characterizations. Jim shows he lives for music by protecting it from Mona at all costs. His staunchest advocate, Lada, describes herself as simple, carefree, and cunning. From lessons she learned growing up under Soviet rule, she teaches Jim to trick Mona. And, true to form, she makes plotting against Mona into a fun game. In contrast to these and other protagonists, Mona lives a lie. Her false speech contradicts her every action. These best and worst representatives of humanity confront each other head-on through intimate encounters.

Like the many faces of the ocean Jim explores in his symphony, the book explores the loving, angry, brutal, and tender sides of sex. Love wins out in a hard-fought battle in the book's climax. The novel's mighty account of the miniature hero, Jim, celebrates the fragile yet powerful beauty of a life lived with passion and purpose.

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