Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin is the story of sixteen year old Judy Lohden, a little person with intelligence and wit that are much larger than her 3-foot 9-inch frame. She is a pleasure to get to know throughout this novel because of her authenticity. She does not bemoan her short stature, instead she lives a rather remarkable life in spite of it. She has a singing voice that stops even the most self-assured of her peers at the private arts school she attends Darcy Arts (or, D’Arts, as only those who attend the school are permitted to call it).
Judy’s story begins in a hotel room where, in a rare moment of weakness, she ran away to in an effort to hide from the most embarrassing thing that could happen to a high school aged girl. (But one that propels C-list celebrity girls into full fledged, A-list stars…you follow?) It is very obvious that DeWoskin has had nightmares about this exact situation happening to her, because her writing is so strong. It is not overly (or even semi-) emotional, so don’t expect a good cry at this one…but it is sincere and hopeful and courageous.
DeWoskin must have consulted her high school journal while constructing this novel, because the passion she put into the events, the feelings, were so authentic that I couldn’t help but remember exactly how it felt to be ignored, then noticed, then kissed, then ignored. I went through the roller coaster alongside Judy (and was so thankful that it was – finally! – just a character in a book going through it, and not me).
I will recommend this book to adults who enjoy YA literature, and mature young adult readers who respect good monologues. The novel was quite text-y at times, but it never felt boring, and I never wanted to rush through it.
And lastly, please allow me to share a few lines I truly loved:
“I realized, looking at her baby animal parade and yellow walls, that I had expected Goth Sarah’s room to be pierced and wearing fishnet wallpaper. But being a teenager isn’t gradual, that’s the funny thing. it happens all of a sudden, and your bedroom can’t quite catch up with you immediately”
“‘Excuse me!’ the librarian suddenly shouted. She was as skinny as a fireplace poker….She wore frameless eyeglasses and a plaid cardigan, buttoned all the way up. I wondered if she had gotten the job because she looked so much like a school librarian, or if she looked that way because she had gotten the job. Maybe we all eventually become calcified chunks of our own essence.” p.23