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Big Girl Small

3.35  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,321 Ratings  ·  391 Reviews
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 nat
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published January 1st 2011)
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The Lover's Dictionary by David LevithanThe Night Circus by Erin MorgensternReady Player One by Ernest ClineBig Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskinRobopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
2012 Alex Awards Winners
4th out of 10 books — 11 voters
11 Birthdays by Wendy MassThe Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price by Jennifer MaschariDisneylanders by Kate  AbbottPositively by Courtney SheinmelLifesaving for Beginners by Ciara Geraghty
Helium Balloons
11th out of 72 books — 6 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Oct 07, 2012 Katie rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 05, 2011 Gina rated it it was ok
Nice idea but my motivation for reading was basically to see what the scandal was. After the big reveal, the novel devolved into a chronology of events - this happened, then this happened, then we did this and this and this - and it became so obvious that the author hadn't thought this through. Also I'm tired of these sarcastic teenage narrators. I feel like every time a first person narrator is slightly out of the ordinary, they have to make up for it with quips and sarcasm. It gets old, especi ...more
Jul 04, 2011 Jojo rated it it was ok
Really 1.5 stars.

At times, the writing was so bad, I wondered how this could've gotten published without some serious revision. I get that the author was going for a conversational tone, as in Catcher, but close reading of Holden's angsty words reveal so much depth that I can teach that book over and over and learn something new every time.

Judy is no Holden. Her voice is interesting at first but then becomes repetitive. How many times do we have to hear that she considers herself "hot" and "cute
Apr 10, 2014 Barbara rated it really liked it
Shelves: chic-lit, fast-read
As a mother of a 17 year old daughter, I thoroughly enjoyed the protagonist voice of 16 year old Judy Lohden. Rachel DeWoskin captures the crazy way the teen brain functions. Judy is a 16 year girl who just transferred to a performing arts private school. She wants to fit in desperately. She’s a good kid, well-meaning, and very talented….and happens to be a person of little stature aka a dwarf. DeWoskin uses the dwarf angel to make the story a bit edgey, and she doesn’t use it to make her main c ...more
Jun 04, 2011 Marie rated it did not like it
I pretty much hated this book. Judy is a 16-year-old little person transitioning to a private arts high school. She's smart and talented, and she says she confident, so why does she make such tragically awful choices?

Aside from not liking Judy AT ALL, I really hate books that feel obligated to describe what someone is wearing when it really makes no difference whatsoever. "I was wearing red tights, a denim skirt and a soft sweater." Who cares? Is Judy really into what she wears because she's a
Jan 22, 2012 Jane rated it really liked it
At one point in Big Girl Small, protagonist Judy wonders whether it is worse to have someone love you because you are different or if it is worse to have someone love you in spite of that.

I think that summarizes Judy's central struggle throughout the book. As a sixteen-year-old dwarf, Judy gets treated differently by others because of who she is. While she's generally a smart and well-adjusted young woman, Judy naturally at times longs for lanky limbs and a normal life. She wants to be seen as
Elaine Cristina Oliveira
Nov 02, 2010 Elaine Cristina Oliveira rated it did not like it
Shelves: lc
I didn't like it at all. The idea was great, the development not so much.

In terms of narrative tone, it's like reading "Catcher in the Rye" all over again - which is a pain for anyone past their teenage-angst years. The main character, Judy, complains too much, believes in an nonexistant self-importance and hates the world for what she is.

There's no plot, per se. It's like 'listening' to a teenanger talking 100mph non-stop about bits and pieces. When you think she's getting to the end of somethi
Mar 21, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it
This book has been on my to read list since I heard the review on NPR last summer. When you begin Rachel DeWoskin’s “Big Girl Small”, know that the narrator, Judy Lohden, is hiding out in a rent-by-week motel, that she is a high school student, that some of her classmates have done something awful to her and that she is a dwarf. This smart, extremely well written story is not a freak show, but rather a story about real friends, loving families, messed up kids and tragedies that can and do happen ...more
T. Greenwood
May 30, 2011 T. Greenwood rated it really liked it
The premise of this novel is what most intrigued me: a sixteen year old dwarf involved in a high school scandal. But it was the voice of the narrator that captivated me. I really loved Judy; her self-awareness was both refreshing and heart-breaking. The plot was handled deftly, and the suspense of both what happened and what would happen as a result kept me turning the pages. My only complaint, and I'm not even sure it's a complaint at all, is that it felt geared toward a YA audience. I think I' ...more
Dec 08, 2013 Debbie rated it liked it
If what you are looking for is a book that sets you right down in the midst of high school angst, this book is for you. DeWoskin does a good job of that. My negatives: that is the last place on earth I'd like to return to. Also 300 pages inside the head of a 16 year old girl is, like, tiresome. Also, I had a hard time believing her parent's response in the end.
Nora Elkady
Aug 25, 2015 Nora Elkady rated it did not like it
I'm tired of reading books of sassy, sarcastic (almost rude), teen age girls as the protagonist. There was nothing special or new about this book along with most other books about high school. The main character herself was uninteresting and unlikable throughout the whole book, she always spoke so highly of herself about how "hot" or "cute" she was even though she was short, or how she had the greatest voice ever, or how she got the best grades and all the teachers loved her. Quite honestly if I ...more
May 26, 2011 Linda rated it it was amazing
I am giving it 5 stars because it made me laugh out loud immediately and it made me think on every page. I don't know if everyone will like this book, though, so I have reservations about recommending it. It covers a very small window of time: the period of high school when you are completely wrapped up in your every emotion. I think she does an amazing, exacting job of describing the feelings that go along with being a 16 year old girl. And she does a perfect job of describing teen boys through ...more
Kate Z
Jun 09, 2011 Kate Z rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: book clubs
(this book is really more like 3 1/2 stars for me)

I selected this book for Challenge #1 in the group "You'll Love This One ... A Book Club and More ..." The challenge was to choose a book entirely by its cover. This book came across my NPR newsfeed and the cover immediately jumped out at me. It reminded me of the (original) Wally Lamb book "She's Come Undone" She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb. It also reminded me of the book Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. Apparently I have a "thing" for blue covers.

I selected the book and committed to it for the challeng
Apr 15, 2012 Gabby rated it liked it
I'm not sure what possessed me to read this book last summer, as I am 22 years old and far past the time for YA novels, but I can only conclude that it was a combination of boredom, working at a library, wanting to turn my brain off and nostalgia for all of the Sarah Dessen novels I read in middle school. So when I saw that my university's library was adding this to its collection my interest was piqued.

I urge everyone to take this review with a large grain of salt: if I was 13 again I would pro
Hope Baugh
Mar 01, 2012 Hope Baugh rated it it was amazing
2012 Alex winner. (The Alex award is given to up to 10 books annually that were published for adults but which also have potential teen appeal.)

Judy is a dwarf (or little person or person of short stature, NOT a "midget.") She is a good writer and has a knock-out singing voice, so she was accepted to the elite performance arts high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her average-sized parents, who run a local restaurant, and her average-sized brothers love her very much. She also has several good fri
Jul 15, 2013 Alicia rated it really liked it
This multi-faceted book is hard to sum up in a few sentences. At its core, it is a book about an extremely talented teen, different from her peers in that she is a dwarf, who makes a few critical bad choices and ends up at the top of the news. But the book is so much more. The author completely captures Judy's teenage voice. Although I haven't been a teen in many years, and my inner voice has changed from teen to mom, as I read Judy's inner dialogue, I was surprised at how true it rang. DeWoskin ...more
Jul 20, 2012 Ariel rated it liked it
I listened to this as an audiobook. I loved the first half - Judy had a unique voice, sarcastic yet thoughtful, that put a spin on the usual high school perspective. But in the second half the plot got in the way of the character development and writing style, which I think were the best parts of the book. I would have enjoyed this more if it was a less dramatic story with more exploration of Judy's normal life, rather than the scandal that engulfed her.


I also found it really frustr
Aug 03, 2015 Liz rated it it was amazing
I love that the idea for this book is first appears as the insane ramblings of an unstable character in another of DeWoskin's books. The concept is entirely absurd, but rendered with such sensitivity, humor and believably that I just wanted to step into the novel and give the main character a hug.

I also really appreciated that, while there was an over-arching mystery (what's the scandal?!) to the story, it wasn't so oppressive that everything leading up to its reveal is an annoyance that you jus
Jul 05, 2011 Kim rated it it was ok
This book tells the story of a girl named Judy who is a Little Person attending a performing arts high school. She does pretty well fitting in with everyone until a humiliating scandal leads her to run away to a hotel from where she is telling her story. I had high hopes for this book after hearing a good review on NPR, but a lot of things fell flat for me. First, the scandal was very predictable. I think I guessed on page one what was going to happen to Judy, so it didn't even feel shocking whe ...more
P1/2 Lauren
Apr 28, 2015 P1/2 Lauren rated it liked it
Big Girl Small is a novel that is both touching and a bit repetitive. But overll the book is a really good and quick read to enjoy.

In most partss of the novel I felt as if the main character didnt feel sympathetic towards herself more than scared, lonely, or shy towards others. I liked this book because even when you are different aside from everyone else you can still be yourself. Rachel is a small girl that was born with dworfism. She doesnt have many friends except for the ones that everyone
Mrs. Nelson's
May 29, 2011 Mrs. Nelson's rated it really liked it
Judy has always stood out: she's got a gorgeous voice, serious acting chops, and a less-than-average height; Judy is a little person. She's always been reasonably comfortable with herself - her parents raised her to be confident. So Judy doesn't think high school - at a prestigious performing arts school - will be too difficult. But things go horribly - and publicly - wrong in a way she could never have imagined when some students take advantage of her naiveté and vulnerability. Judy is defeated ...more
May 29, 2011 Tina rated it really liked it
I just wrote a long review and lost it so I will only say that I really enjoyed this book but I think it will be a love it or hate it book for many. It reads something like Cather in the Rye with the self absorbed 16 year old girl perspective, but I really enjoyed the character and her views on her world.

"True love is not a one time event" I would have hated hearing that as a teenager, but I think Judy learns that the feelings you have and the actions you take for "love" don't have to be dimini
Jul 03, 2011 Alexei rated it it was ok
I found that the whole book was just one long prologue. It talked too much about Judy's past and not enough about what was currently going on. I felt it was a book on just teenage drama, and I get enough of that! The only thing that makes this book unique, is that the protagonist was a "Little Person". Otherwise, It was just a book on re-living the shitty parts of High School. I gave it 2 stars because it was a little interesting, until it just dragged on. I also found that her being a "Little P ...more
May 02, 2015 Sarina rated it it was amazing
This book was very addictive. It's hilarious, and sarcasm incorporates into this book A LOT so if you don't understand sarcasm, maybe this isn't the book for you. But underneath the humor, you can sense a bitter, broken, and hopeless underlying feeling. Whenever I read this book, those broken feelings overwhelmed me and my throat squeezed like I was going to cry.
This book, it just makes me so heartbroken, all the awful things that happened to Judy. I was always irritated at the pathetic way she
Apr 13, 2015 Lauren rated it it was ok
Judy Lohden is a teenager living with dwarfism who dreams of being a star. She has acting talent, a voice that can shake the rafters, and can write a compelling story, getting her a coveted space at Darcy Academy, a private performing arts school in her hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Trying to fit in is hard enough for any new kid, but Judy feels especially on display due to her short stature. That doesn’t stop her from getting the lead in the school musical, making a few friends, and lusting ...more
Feb 06, 2015 Sara rated it it was ok
Friday February 6, 2015

Big Girl Small follows the story of Judy, who has enough talent to shake an auditorium but doesn’t show her gift to others. Judy often criticizes others and how they view her since she is only 1.18 meters tall and is classified as a little person. Her reflections of others as being ignorant is only a way to make herself feel better as she is obviously isn’t confident because of her stature. Additionally, her parents try to make Judy feel like a normal teenager but at the s
Sophie Piazza
Oct 02, 2014 Sophie Piazza rated it liked it
Big Girl Small Review
I read Big Girl Small by the eye opening author Rachel DeWoskin. Rachel narrated the book in the perspective of the protagonist Judy Lohden. Judy has a typical teenage attitude with a sarcastic sense of humor throughout the book. Rachel DeWoskin wrote the book keeping in mind the audience would mostly be teenagers which makes this book relatable and come alive in our own lives.
Judy is a sixteen year old, little person with some big attitude. She has the best voice at her
May 19, 2011 Kirsten rated it liked it
This has a great narrative voice, and some really witty clever passages. That said, the flashback-y frame narrative did not work all that well for me. Also, at the point where the book should be building to a climax, we basically retreat.... into Judy's head. For pages and pages. That really broke the momentum for me, and I just didn't want to bother sitting through what amounted to a lot of obsessive self-pity. The ending felt strained as well. Too bad the way it began wasn't sustainable.
Leah Vaughan
Nov 18, 2015 Leah Vaughan rated it liked it
Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin is an amazing novel. The main character and narrator Judy Lohden goes from being a good girl, to a bad one. This book will help give you something to look out for in high school. If you have already graduated, it may bring back some memories from your youth. She finds herself regretting certain choices.
Judy Lohden just transferred to Darcy. It is a school of performing arts. She has a huge voice and made the senior voice class. Yet, she is only 3”9’. When she t
Megan Meunier
Jan 20, 2015 Megan Meunier rated it liked it
Shelves: school-library
A few weeks ago I became obsessed with the actor Warwick Davis after watching him drive around the Top Gear track using a pringles can as an extended pedal. As I plunged through the depths of obsession, I became fascinated with dwarfism and watched several documentaries on the subject.

Oddly enough, I found this book by pure coincidence in the midst of all this. I genuinely believed from the title that it would be a story about losing weight, or something to that effect. My surprise when I found
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Wild Things: YA G...: Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin 1 10 Jan 22, 2013 09:23PM  
A teen book? 5 21 Jan 11, 2012 06:15AM  
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Rachel DeWoskin is the author of Foreign Babes in Beijing, a memoir about her inadvertent notoriety as the star of a Chinese soap opera, and a novel, Repeat After Me. She lives in New York City and Beijing and is at work on her fourth book, Statutory.
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“I mean, we have to read books or we'll make mistakes. If we read stories of how other people lived, we can figure out better ways to live. I mean we can look at other people's lives and not make the same mistakes they made. Or we can, like, use their examples as models for ourselves.” 7 likes
“That's the thing about me. I prefer things once they're already over and I'm working on understanding them. I wish I were faster at that - like, I could understand things while they're happening - but I always have to read the whole book and write the entire paper before I even know what the hell I'm thinking.” 3 likes
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