Judy Lohden is your above-average sixteen-year-old - sarcastic and vulnerable, talented and uncertain, full of big dreams for a big future. With a singing voice that can shake an auditorium, she should be the star of Darcy Academy, the local performing arts high school. So why is a girl this promising hiding out in a seedy motel room on the edge of town?
The fact that the national media is on her trail after a controversy that might bring down the whole school could have something to do with it. And that scandal has something - but not everything - to do with the fact that Judy is three feet nine inches tall.
Rachel DeWoskin remembers everything about high school: the auditions (painful), the parents (hovering), the dissection projects (compelling), the friends (outcasts), the boys (crushable), and the girls (complicated), and she lays it all out with a wit and wistfulness that is half Holden Caulfield, half Lee Fiora, Prep's ironic heroine. Big Girl Small is a scathingly funny and moving book about dreams and reality, at once light on its feet and unwaveringly serious.
DeWoskin's novel evokes high school life with a kind of biting cynicism while it simultaneously offers a hopeful coming-of-age story with a performing arts setting that will appeal to fans of the television shows Fame and Glee. Big Girl Small is both sophisticated thematically and (at times) raucously crude, the kind of book both teenage girls and their parents might laugh along with. (Reviewed by Norah Piehl).
DeWoskin creates a compelling voice for Judy and performs neat literary magic, confronting the stereotypes of teen fiction even as she uses them to pull the readers' heartstrings.
Starred Review. It's a rare author who is willing to subject her protagonist to the extreme ranges of degradation and redemption to which DeWoskin subjects Judy; thankfully, she manages it beautifully.
Starred Review. DeWoskin deftly captures the often vicious dynamics of adolescents, which mask their fragility, and creates in Judy an unforgettable character, one who is, by turns, sardonic and heartbreakingly vulnerable.
Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
The voice of Judy Lohden will ring in my head for weeks to come. A first page so funny and fierce I read it aloud to my teenagers - in public. Judy stuffs Holden Caulfield right back into his dusty museum case and shows us the rawness and the dark humor of today's coming-of-age experience. Judy Lohden speaks for all young people facing the unspeakable ignorance of others. Yet Rachel DeWoskin handles the story with the sensitivity of a scalpel and a humor that leaves the reader howling. I was delighted and moved.
Darin Strauss, author of Chang and Eng and More Than It Hurts You Big Girl Small is the most engaging novel I've read in many years. DeWoskin has aimed the book at all the pleasure centers: it's sad, funny, quirkily suspenseful, and - most of all - beautiful. I can't imagine a more satisfying read. A book for anyone, anywhere, who's ever felt alien or different. That is, a book for everyone.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Barbie High School Relived I only gave a 3 because I read the book until the end. It was well written and flows easily. I was hoping at some point this would become uplifting but it never got out of the muck of high school. Nothing new except for the size of the main... Read More
Rated of 5
by Sara Thought provoking read This book had me saying out loud, so true every couple of pages. The plot was slow building, but I did not care because I enjoyed reading this book so much.
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 ways - via genetic mutation or by inheriting the gene from one or both parents. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, achondroplasia "is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern, which means one copy of the altered gene in each cell is sufficient to cause the disorder." So in other...
A tragic comedy of epic sweep and dimension, Skippy Dies wrings every last drop of humour and hopelessness out of life, love, mermaids, M-theory, the poetry of Robert Graves, and all the mysteries of the human heart.
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