Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin
Books that are written about teenagers but aimed at adults are often a tricky sell, but to be honest, I’ve never read a book in the genre that wasn’t worth it. DeWoskin follows the trend.
Judy Lohden, 16,who’s just moved to a new arts school, is nervous about being accepted, and develops a crush on hopeful cinematographer Jeff. But her story splits from the average tale of adolescent trauma, as Judy has achondroplasia: she is a Little Person. And she’s recounting the tale of her high school experience from a motel room, alone; hiding from her parents, her friends, and reporters, slowly unravelling how she came to be there – to her agreeable neighbour Bill, and to us.
DeWoskin, who has previously written a novel and a memoir of her life as a Chinese journalist and soap opera star, has done an amazing job at getting into the mindspace of teenagers: the distraction of all-encompassing love; the forced friendships; the casual peer pressure; the realities of reputations and gossip. Judy is sometimes a bad friend, and occasionally lies and makes bad decisions, but as that’s the whole point of being a teenager (and, well, human in general), you can hardly fault her for it. And while some of her other schoolmates are a depressing indictment of the current tech-obsession of Youth Today (including myself ), there is kindness threaded through Big Girl Small, from her adoring average-sized family and from some more unexpected places.
Big Girl Small doesn’t shy away from serious issues, this book is not for the faint-hearted. It’s funny, thrilling, wise, heartbreaking and honest. You may decide to home-school your kids after reading it.
Fiona Hardy is from Readings Carlton.