25 February 2011

Book Review in Brief: Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin

Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin
Dark, funny, wry, and wise--these are a few of the adjectives that come to mind after reading this book.  And while any single one of those descriptives is not unusual to find, in my experience it is rare to find a work defined equally by all four.  Judy is a teenager on scholarship at a prestigious performing arts high school with a stupendous singing talent and the smarts to match.  She also happens to be only 3'9" tall.  The usual coming-of-age/prep school/sex scandal story takes on a larger dimension here, if you'll pardon the pun, with Judy's blackly comic narration.   She sees herself as a typical girl, and the only handicap she faces is knowing that others view her as disabled, if not as an outright freak.  Judy's outsider status gives her uncommon insight and you'll find yourself nodding along to her comments on human nature.  This book is part Geek Love, part Prep, part Skippy Dies, and completely, gloriously dark, funny, wry, and wise.

I don't want to give away a major plot point, but suffice it to say that something awful happens to Judy.  We know right away that something happens, as in the first chapter she's narrating the story as a runaway in a seedy motel room a few days after it happens, but the book leads up to that something gradually.  The only part of this story that was not believable to me was that in the end, Judy and her family decide not to prosecute the people involved in the something.  Maybe I would feel differently if I were a parent, though.  It's hard for me to say.  But now I really want somebody else to read this book so that I can discuss it openly--maybe my thinking is a little self-righteous and idealistic, and maybe the book is actually more realistic.  So if you've read it, let me know and let's chat!

NB: I requested an ARC of this book from my sales rep, Jennifer Philpott.  Rachel DeWoskin will be reading at the Odyssey in April and I look forward to getting the chance to ask her these questions myself.

Edited to add: This book has since been postponed due to some mysterious editing that had to be done on it.  The publisher is being very closed-mouthed about it, though, which is causing no end of speculation among my staff.  I was able to purchase from The Strand an unauthorized copy that sneaked out while FSG wasn't looking!


  1. I'll definitely read it. It sounds very much my style. I'll go put it in my cart at Amazon. I love your blog. You have very intelligent reviews. Thanks!

  2. Hey Em! I'll read this book to discuss it with you! It sounds awesome. :) Do you have a copy I can borrow? If not, I'll check my local library. Let me know!
    Happy New Year and hugs to you and DH.


  3. Hey, Mel--

    I might have a copy of this at home. I'll have to check once I'm back from WI. Hope you & Holly had a great new year!


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