Kelsey Burnette's Reviews > Big Girl Small

Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin
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Feb 18, 12


It was great to read this right after finishing Helen Schulman's "This Beautiful Life." Similar theme but this novel appealed to me so much more. Partly because I just loved Jane, who narrates this story in such a real voice that you can't help but like her and relate to her, but also cringe and want her to shut up at times. I felt like I was reliving my teenage years without glossing over all of the hideous parts that I've tried so hard to forget. Just imagine how it would be if your most humiliating, frightening moment of high school was broadcast for all to see.

This was a poignant portrayal of just how tough life can be when you are a teenager. Goth Sarah tells Judy, "when you're a teenager, your brain isn't fully developed yet...your brain is all exuberant when you're young, but then it gets you know, adulted out with rules or whatever." Later, when her parents are bickering about Christmas plans, Judy listens to them, annoyed, and thinks, "Can I please keep my exuberant brain forever?" The answer, of course, is no. Because, life happens, and the exuberance never seems to survive intact.

Judy reminds me of how most of us were at that age. Alternately, on top of the world and completely insecure. Struggling with her own insecurities, Judy sees herself when she reads Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye," commenting, "the part of the book that kills me is how she loves the blonde doll. How she wants to be what she can never be. That's life-ruining enough, I think." And when her teacher expresses compassion after reading Judy's paper, Judy thinks, "I had a little chill of fear--that she knew more about me than I knew about myself, the way your parents think they do but don't, and the way some grown ups actually do."

Although it makes Judy's character very interesting, this is not a book about being a little person. Well, it is, but it is also a book about being a person--how everyone has to come to terms with who they are, how they are different, and the mistakes they invariably make.

An exuberant book that makes you remember your own youthful exuberance--the good with fondness, and the mistakes with something like forgiveness and understanding finally replacing the shame--we were only kids afterall.
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