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 media, and the sadly not all too uncommon event that has left her shattered, unsure if she will ever be able to recover.
I've read numerous reviews that compare Judy to both the iconic Holden Caulfield of Catcher in the Rye
fame and the angst ridden Lee Fiora of Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep
. I find both comparisons unfair. Judy is a unique character all her own, sharing only one thing in common with either novel, that it is a incredibly memorable coming of age tale, that is both modern and timeless. Judy was a very believable character; her internal thought processes and constant fears of judgment by her peers striking a chord that should remind any adult reading this book of what it felt like when they too were 16. While her stature could have come across as gimicky, it was handled quite well, without overshadowing the actual story. The rest of the characters were equally well written, making for an enjoyable read (or in my case listen). None of the background characters came across as cardboard cutouts resembling teenagers, despite the fact that they were made up of the ubiquitous in-crowd, geeks, and outcasts that you'll find in any high school. The adults were every bit as individual. The author's ability to give each character a unique voice, made this novel stand out from the crowd of coming-of-age novels that clog the shelves and I highly recommend this novel, both to teenagers and adults.