Is it important that Judy Lohden, the inimitable heroine of Big Girl Small
, is a little person topping out at well under four feet tall? After all, many (perhaps all) other teenage girls have experienced crises of confidence like those Judy undergoes. Judy's periodic disorientation as she attempts to reconcile her own imagined version of her physical appearance with the external realities of her body is also something that will ring true for anyone who recalls adolescent awkwardness. What's more, the horrific event that causes sixteen-year-old Judy's retreat from friends, family, and school life is one that could - and, tragically, does - happen to girls and women of any age, regardless of their stature.
The fact that we can all identify with Judy's doubts and fears, as well as admire her sarcastic narration and her towering singing voice, enables readers to identify...
Beyond the Book
In Rachel DeWoskin's novel, Big Girl Small
, Judy Lohden has achondroplasia, a genetic bone growth disorder that results in short-limbed dwarfism (responsible for about 70% of all dwarfism cases). The word "achondroplasia" literally means "without cartilage formation," however, the term is a bit of a misnomer as the body of a person with achondroplasia is able to form cartilage but then fails to convert it to bone (especially in the long bones, i.e. arms and legs). This happens when there is a mutation of the FGFR3 gene (the gene responsible for producing a protein that develops and maintains the growth of bone and brain tissue), which then causes disruptions in skeletal development.
Affecting 1 out of every 15,000 - 40,000 births, a person can get the gene one of two...