Review: Small Medium at Large

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Small Medium at LargeSmall Medium at Large by Joanne Levy
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on July 3, 2012
Genres: Humor, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 208
Format: Hardcover
Source: Author

After she’s hit by lightning at a wedding, twelve-year-old Lilah Bloom develops a new talent: she can hear dead people. Among them, there’s her overopinionated Bubby Dora; a prissy fashion designer; and an approval-seeking clown who livens up a séance. With Bubby Dora leading the way, these and other sweetly imperfect ghosts haunt Lilah through seventh grade, and help her face her one big fear: talking to—and possibly going to the seventh-grade dance with—her crush, Andrew Finkel.

First Sentence: “Despite the suffocating mid-May hear and the nonbreathable fabric of my lavender polyester dress, it was shaping up to be a very good day.”

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!).

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.

Favorite Quote:

“‘Andrew! Wait!’ I yelled as a last chance. ‘I know about your underwear!'”

12 responses to “Review: Small Medium at Large”

  1. Kat Balcombe says:

    I’m not a middle-grade lover, but you make this sound fantastic! Lilah sounds like such a realistic twelve year old and so sweet!

  2. I know the perfect person to gift this too, awesome review and so glad this tickled you.

  3. Lynn K. says:

    For some reason I’ve always thought this book was a contemporary.. o__o
    Great review! I think I may get this for my sister’s Christmas present.

  4. Nori says:

    This sounds adorable! I’ve read pretty much only good reviews for it! It is being added to my wishlist right now!

  5. Oh I haven’t seen this book before! But while looking at the cover I haven’t even imagined that this would have some paranormal parts. Interesting. Sounds like a really adorable book. Great review 🙂

  6. This sounds like a light, fun read! I still read middle grade books. They are quick reads and they make me laugh out loud sometimes. 🙂

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