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This is a Six Star Read!!
on May 10, 2011
My biggest problem in writing this review is I want to give Big Girl Small 6 stars. That is how compelling this new novel is. It is a brilliant novel, completely innovative, enchanting, and beautifully crafted. I was already a fan of Rachel DeWoskin after reading Repeat After Me, and I was eager to get my copy of Big Girl Small, so I came to it with big expectations.
The protagonist, Judy Lohden, is small in height, less than four feet tall, but big in talent, ambition, smarts, and wit. The narrative is her autobiography, and it displays all that is big about her. She recounts her journey, her first year at Darcy High, a performing arts high school in Ann Arbor Michigan. Born into a family of average height, we learn of the pride and courage with which she had faced life and led her to apply to Darcy High. That is her big gamble at being mainstream. She takes the stage and performs before an audience, not as a Wizard of Oz munchkin, but as a regular, talented high school girl. Her stage performance is a smash hit.
Judy triumphs over the challenges she expected at Darcy. But there are challenges she does not expect, a performance she does not intend, and Judy descends into a dark night she could never have imagined. Without a touch of mawkish sentimentality, but with the same encompassing tolerance and the same powerful storyteller's touch displayed in Repeat after Me, DeWoskin takes us along on that journey, through Judy's eye's, Judy's wit, Judy's insight, and Judy's 3'9" perspective.
It goes without saying I could not put the book down, and I will read it again. There is a clarity, humanity, and depth in this story that makes it not just about a little person, but about every adolescent and every person who has dealt with some personal "insufficiency," real or imagined. The book is rich in texture and authentic detail about the school and the city of Ann Arbor, where I believe DeWoskin herself went to high school.
This book could be a young person's read. It is certainly an adult read. And I believe it is likely to be a very big popular read.