Excerpt from Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Big Girl Small

A Novel

by Rachel DeWoskin

Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin
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  • First Published:
    May 2011, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2012, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

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Print Excerpt


My parents named me Judy accidentally, by the way, without realizing that Judy Garland was a dwarf mocker. Judy has always been my mom's favorite name, and who doesn't love that Klimt picture of Judith holding Holofernes' head? Maybe someday there'll be a picture of me holding Kyle Malanack's head, although it'll be a smudged newspaper photo, ripped digitally from the security camera of a parking garage or something. I doubt people will produce millions of prints for dorm rooms. Although maybe they will. Some kids love a villain.

I was brilliant in school, by the way. You have to be smart as well as talented in some other, "artistic" way to get into Darcy. Maybe that will be the next story, when it breaks, when they find me here. The sequel. Lots of Darcy kids being like, "She seemed so, well, normal!" Except they'll have to stop themselves: "I mean, not normal, but you know, sweet" - except they'll have to stop themselves there, too, because I wasn't sweet, exactly, was kind of sarcastic, for a doll of a girl. "Well," they'll have to concede, "after what happened to her, I mean, who wouldn't lose it?" They all know what happened. It's too horrible to contemplate, and I wish I didn't know. What they should say is that I was too smart for my own good, that it would have been better to be an animal, not to know what I was missing, not to have been able to see my life. A little bit of ignorance would have saved me. What good is there in seeing your situation clearly if there's no escape from it? I'd love to hear the story of my academic genius, if there were any way of interpreting it other than that I've had to overcompensate every second of my life.

Here, news media, here's a sound bite for when you find me: if you're born saddled with a word like Achondroplasia, you learn to spell. If the first boy you dare love pulls the worst Stephen King Carrie prank in the history of dating, then you run and hide. Because who can love you after that? Maybe your parents. But how can you face them, when you've all spent so much time convincing each other that you're normal?

All I'm saying is, if you're me, and you can't reach a gas pump, pay phone, or ATM, and your arms and legs are disproportionately short, and your mouth is too impossible to kiss without it becoming a public carnival, then you don't get to be included in anything but the now obsolete, original meaning of the stupid word normal. Which, believe it or not, according to the OED, is rare.

So I'm the rare dwarf at the Motel Manor on the outskirts of Ypsi, close enough to my parents that they should have found me by now, and maybe in more danger than I can guess at. And you know what? I don't care. I hope the story ends here. It's fine if it does. I mean, that way I'll be the dream come true of all those hopeful Oz watchers, waiting for a dwarf to hang.

Thumbelina, Thumbelina, tiny little thing. Thumbelina dance, Thumbelina sing. Thumbelina, it makes no difference if you're very small, for when your heart is full of love you're nine feet tall.

Excerpted from Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin. Copyright © 2011 by Rachel DeWoskin. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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