Monday, September 26, 2011

It's not ALL about the differences

Among the most intriguing things about Rachel DeWoskin's "Big Girl Small" is what it isn't.

It isn't a novel about coping with the challenges of being different. It's a novel about coping with the challenges faced by teens told by someone who happens to be different.

DeWoskin's heroine Judy Lohden is a 16-year-old girl making the transition to a new high school for the performing arts.She's clashing with her parents, trying to make new friends, coping with boy troubles. And, oh yeah, she's not even 4 feet tall.

Judy is your typical teen in more ways than not. DeWoskin has crafted a wonderfully rich character who doesn't define herself by her stature, so why should we?

If anything, she defines herself by the vocal talent that's landed her at the performang arts high school:

I mean, I knew they weren't going to be able to believe it when they heard me sing. Partly it's just an expectation thing - it's like when you see a book with a really stupid cover and then you're surprised it's deep or good or smart or whatever. When you see me, you're like, okay, there might be things she's good at, but having a huge, bellowing voice probably isn't one of them. But it is"

And yet, despite her talents, her loving family, her good friends, all is far from rosy in Judy's world. When does teasing stop being funny? When does a joke cross that line? Does any of us know where the line is?

Before we could pretend not to see him, he waved. We all waved back. And no one said anything mean, even after he jogged away with his shorts riding up so high he looked like he was naked. Maybe simply because it would have been too easy. And all I can say about that morning is - how did we three know instinctively where the lines are between being funny and being brutal?

Judy discovers firsthand how quickly things can go from being wonderful to being awful as she comes to terms with a situation I fear is too common in today's world.

How refreshing to read a novel about someone who's different that's not about the difference.

- Tricia Ambrose 
Follow me on Twitter @triciaambrose

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home