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by Rachel DeWoskin
Reviewed by Judy Lim

Judy Lohden is smart and talented; she has a scathing sense of humour and is just a little bit conceited. She is 16 years old, starting a new year in a new school, trying to find her place in the often vicious, often changing world that is high school. Judy is a very typical teenager in so many ways—she wants to be a part of the most popular group, and she wants so badly to be noticed by the beautiful Jeff Legassic—yet Judy is really not so typical. Judy Lohden is 3 feet 9 inches tall. She is a Little Person or a dwarf, but prefers to be called Judy.

Judy is telling her story to Bill, an older man who is living in the same seedy, cheap Hotel in which Judy has hidden herself. She is "the rare dwarf at the Motel Manor on the outskirts of Ypsi, close enough to my parents that they should have found me by now, and maybe in more danger than I can guess at." But why is she there? Why is she alone? And where is her family? And slowly, so slowly Judy's story is revealed through her chats with Bill in the hallway of the Motel Manor.

DeWoskin manages to capture the voice of Judy perfectly. She reminds us of just how it was in high school where "popular" is the sought after status and the smart kids, the nerdy kids, the fake kids and the happy ones all strive in their own way to attain that goal. Judy is no different from the others, and she makes some dubious choices in her effort to be one of the cool kids. Because of this she regrets her friendship with Goth Sarah: "I was a little bummed about the whole being BFF with Sarah so fast … and my friendship with Goth Sarah disqualified me for ones with girls like Ginger. Everyone the least bit glittery had lost interest in me entirely." But despite this, it is to Sarah that Judy turns in her darkest moments, and Sarah is unfailing in her friendship.

Big Girl Small is a coming of age novel. Judy Lohden's height is mostly irrelevant to the story, yet it is still a defining characteristic. She is a typical teenager grappling with her desire to fit in, to be the same as the others, yet still she wants to be different, to follow her dreams of stardom.

Judy Lohden is a little girl on the verge of womanhood. She is capable and independent, yet still relies heavily on the love and acceptance of her family. She is courageous, yet fearful. She is strong-willed, but at times heart-breakingly vulnerable. She is full of conflict. She is a teenager.