Big Girl Small
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Big Girl Small

3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  1,865 ratings  ·  344 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...more
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 LevithanBig Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskinThe Night Circus by Erin MorgensternReady Player One by Ernest ClineRobopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
2012 Alex Awards Winners
2nd out of 10 books — 9 voters
The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenThe Night Circus by Erin MorgensternReady Player One by Ernest ClineThe Lover's Dictionary by David LevithanMatched by Ally Condie
YALSA 2012 Best of the Best List
79th out of 82 books — 60 voters


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Community Reviews

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Katie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gina
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
Joanne
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...more
Marie
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...more
Barbara
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
Jane
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...more
Elaine Cristina Oliveira
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...more
T. Greenwood
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
Debbie
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.
Sarah
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
Kate Z
Jun 09, 2011 Kate Z rated it 4 of 5 stars
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...more
Gabby
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...more
Hope Baugh
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...more
Alicia
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
Ariel
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.

SPOILER ALERT

I also found it really frustr...more
Liz
I love that the idea for this book is first appears as the insane ramblings on 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...more
Kim
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
Mrs. Nelson's
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
Tina
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...more
Alexei
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
Kirsten
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.
Katja
Judy ist kleinwüchsig und misst 1,15 m Grösse und hat sich eigentlich mit dieser Grösse abgefunden. Dann mache sie einen Schritt, der ihr ganzes Leben verändern und wechselt auf eine Privatschule, deren Schwerpunkt auf Gesang, Schauspiel und Kunst liegt. Anfangs läuft alles gut, sie findet Freunde, wird von den Lehrern gemocht und hat Spass an allem.
Dann trifft sie auf Kyle und verliebt sich sofort und dann nimmt der Unheil seinen Lauf.
Judy erzählt alles aus ihrem Versteck in einem Motel und den...more
Becky
I truly cannot resist books about high school. Even if their writing is nothing special (as here) I get so sucked into teenage girls' high school drama. Nostalgia perhaps? This one has the added interest of a protagonist who's a dwarf/little person. It's a good metaphor for the alienation/out-of-place-ness that so many high schoolers feel. Good, juicy coming of age stuff.
Renee
I hate to say it but I really hated this book. Perhaps if I was younger I would have enjoyed it more but the narrator/main character, Judy, was so whiny and sarcastic and completely self-absorbed that it was off putting. I found the characters to be flat and the prose to be tedious. I had very high hopes for this book and found the idea that Judy was LP interesting. Unfortunately, other than her bringing it up CONSTANTLY, it didn't seem to play into the story that much. Overall, a big disappoint...more
Meghan
Currently blowing me away.
Kate
OK, so the narrator is a whip-smart, hyper-articulate, above-it-all (but so NOT) teen girl who has lots going for her, including a supportive family, awesome, dedicated teachers who see her amazing potential and love her for it, plus a couple trustworthy friends...yet she'd be willing to risk damaging all that if it could mean a shot at grabbing the brass ring that is high school popularity. Original, right? No?
You're right; it isn't original at all. But somehow, the author provides a couple li...more
Linda
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
Christie
The author, Rachel DeWoskin, flawlessly captured the voice of the angry teenager. DeWoskin shares universal teenage angst spun around this complex character, Judy Lohden, a small person attending and new to Darcy Academy, a performing arts high school for the gifted. Although we know from the beginning that Judy is involved in the videotaping of some sex scandal, the complexities of blame around date rape, gang rape (according to Judy), and teen drinking-and-sex are masterfully handled in this v...more
Sara  (LitHacker.com)
First go read this excellent review by Jane . I agree with Jane that I saw the big shocking thing coming from a mile away, but I think that was intended, and not meant to be a surprise. At one point Judy talks about some other teens acting kind of like a Greek chorus and about dramatic irony, so I think the reader was supposed to know what was coming and cringe in pain while seeing the bad choices that Judy makes. At least for me, I still felt a twisty kind of suspense knowing what was coming a...more
Sara
At 16 years old Judy Loden is a precocious young girl; witty, smart, and a voice that could knock you over. She is also 3 ft 9 in tall and has convinced her parents to let her attend the the prestigious Ann Arbor Darcy Arts Academy. Life isn't exactly easy when you're a little person, but Judy handles it with aplomb, making new friends and falling for the best looking guy at school. Yet she is telling us her story from a seedy hotel room where she is hiding out, from her family, her friends, the...more
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Wild Things: YA G...: Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin 1 9 Jan 22, 2013 09:23PM  
A teen book? 5 19 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.” 5 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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