Small Medium at Large
GUYS, Small Medium at Large is every bit as frickin' adorable as the puntastic title implies, and I am so happy to be able to say that. I had extremely high hopes for Joanne Levy's debut, since we've bonded over Twitter, but experience has shown that just because I love an author, I won't necessarily be impressed by their novels. Thankfully, Joanne's was a little ray of middle grade sunshine that made me say "AWWWW" out loud multiple times.
From the very beginning, I knew I would love this, because Lilah has such a great, optimistic voice, perfect for a middle grade narrator. As the book begins, Lilah's the bridesmaid as her mother marries her new step-father, Stan. In most books, this would be where we hear about the evil step-parent or sadness over the divorce, but Lilah is nothing but supportive of her parents finding happiness. Even better, both of her parents are involved and loving.
While standing outside the reception hall, Lilah leans against a metal pole while trying to scrape some crud off her shoe and gets struck by lightning. She wakes up in the hospital with all three concerned parental units (mom and step-father having delayed their honeymoon), apparently no worse for the wear. Well, except that now she can hear her Bubby (her dead grandmother) talking to her.
Turns out, the lightning strike scrambled her brain and now she can hear dead people, but not see them, which is probably for the best. It's like The Sixth Sense, only hilarious and adorable instead of creepy. These sassy ghosts do what sassy ghosts do best: impart lots of advice of varying quantities of usefulness, and also ask for help of their own. Lilah, being the sweet, caring girl she is, takes this all relatively in stride and does her best to help everyone that comes her way, with the occasionally bumbling assistance of her best friend, and future band-mate, Alex.
What made this feel so essentially middle grade was Lilah's reaction to all of this. She has so much less skepticism in the face of the phenomenon and much less fear of other people's reactions. Where a teen or adult would keep this information on the down low, Lilah tells person after person, because she's honest and wants to help. An older person might devise a clever way around telling how they know what they do, but that's just not Lilah's style. It was adorable, especially one particular scene where Lilah tries to convince her crush, Andrew Finkle, that his dead father was speaking to her. Oh, also amusing was Lilah's inability to avoid responding to the ghosts, such that she ends up getting caught talking to herself a lot.
Lilah's interactions with others, both ghost and human alike, are where the book really shines. She takes such good care of her father, urging him (at Bubby's request) to start dating again. Her interactions with Andrew are totally accurate to middle school flirting in their sweet awkwardness. Bubby and Ms. Lafontaine stole the show with their sassy advice to Lilah, as well as their occasional shock at twelve-year-olds these days, who want to get kissed at the seventh grade dance (shocking!).
What Left Me Wanting More:
Do bras really come in boxes in Canada? That seemed a bit strange.
The Final Verdict:
If you love adorable middle grade stories or know some middle graders who do, Small Medium at Large is an excellent choice, sure to delight a younger reader even more than it did me.
For this book it's hard to pick favorites because I really enjoyed all the characters but I have to say that I did have a least favorite and it might sound weird because this character was in the book for like 3 chapters but she still really annoyed me and that person was Lilah's mother. Why you ask? Well because her daughter gets hit by lighting and of course she's there when she wakes up the first time. But when she wakes up in the hospital the second time before she goes home her mother isn't there because she's gone on her honeymoon. Now granted Lilah did have her father who she was closer with but if I had a daughter and she was HIT BY LIGHTING! I would so not be leaving her side until she was at home safe. Anybody agree with me?
I absolutely loved Lilah's dad he was such a fun character to read. He was the kind of dad that I want my dad to be. He was like Lilah's best friend, a great dad who protected his daughter when need be but he wasn't way to over protective and he even let her help him start dating again! I thought he was a cute character because he just seemed so innocent! But you realize what a good relationship she has with her dad in the first place because after her parents divorce she lives with her dad instead of her mom. (Another thing about the mom. I would make sure I have custody of my kids!)
Sorry about all the ranting this book has sent me on a tangent! Anyways the whole spirit thing with Lilah! was another one of my favorite parts of the book. One thing that surprised me was how easily her friends and a few other people believed her when she told them she hears dead people. I would of thought she would of had a really hard time convincing them but she didn't and I sort of liked that! I thought it was awesome how the sprits just popped up out of nowhere to help her when she needed it!
This book for me gets a 4 out of 5 stars. Reason being is because although I enjoyed the whole thing I think a few things could of changed as I said above. But don't get me wrong the book was an awesome quick read and i'd definitely read it again!