Paul, Big, and Small

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Pub Date 01 Oct 2019 | Archive Date 15 Oct 2019

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Paul Adams has always been short, but he’s an excellent rock climber. And his small size means he can hide from the bullies that prowl the halls of his high school.

Top on his list of “People to Avoid” are Conor, from his Language Arts class, Hunter, who hangs around the climbing gym, and Lily Small, who happens to be the tallest girl in school. But he might be able to be friends with a new kid from Hawaii who insists that everyone call him “Big.” He’s got a way of bringing everyone into his circle and finding the beauty in even the worst of situations.

When the three of them—Paul, Big, and Small—are assigned to the same group project, they form an unlikely friendship. And Paul realizes that maybe Lily isn’t so bad after all. He might even actually like her. And maybe even more than like her.

Paul and Lily team up for a rock-climbing competition, but when Lily is diagnosed with leukemia, Paul ends up with Conor on his team. And when Paul learns that Conor is dealing with bullies of his own—as well as some deep emotional pain—he realizes that the bullying in his school has got to stop.

Paul, Big, and Small is about the turbulent, emotional lives of young adults who are struggling with life’s challenges openly and sometimes in secret.

Paul Adams has always been short, but he’s an excellent rock climber. And his small size means he can hide from the bullies that prowl the halls of his high school.

Top on his list of “People to...

Advance Praise

"Paul is hardly five feet tall which makes him the perfect high school. He encounters Lily Small, a tall, athletic black girl, and Big, a triple-X Hawaiian shirt–wearing Polynesian. The trio are partnered up for a project on Of Mice and Men...this assignment is the seed for the strongest friendships he has ever had. Through this project and at the local rock climbing gym, Paul, who is white, learns to recognize others’ issues that cause them to pick on those weaker than themselves. While much of the book focuses on the mental strength and physical agility necessary to be a successful climber, the subplots demonstrate how this sport can provide the therapy needed to overcome bullying, grief, and trauma. This book shows how friendships can be found when least expected. Perfect for libraries building their sports collections, as it clearly explains the fundamentals of rock climbing not often found in other YA books."—School Library Journal

"Paul is hardly five feet tall which makes him the perfect high school. He encounters Lily Small, a tall, athletic black girl, and Big, a triple-X Hawaiian shirt–wearing Polynesian. The...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781629726021
PRICE $17.99 (USD)

Average rating from 15 members

Featured Reviews

I absolutely adored this book. It reminded me a lot of Freak the Mighty and the characters in that book. I like when characters who are all kind of nerdy bond together and together just a great team. This book is really a feel good book a really nice summer read!

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I fell in love with the characters in this book, especially Big. The story is wonderful and is written in a detailed, realistic and expressive way. This book is perfect for teens to read in this day and age.. I highly recommend it.

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This novel depicts strong friendships, and presents many of its characters as three-dimensional. Readers will immediately fall in love with Big, and will root for Paul as he develops into the person we hoped he would. I feel the climbing gym is a novel setting, and that the physical and mental challenges inherent in the sport serve as a nice comparison (and contrast, depending on the circumstance) to the other hurdles the characters face.

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David Glen Robb weaves a heartfelt, real-life look at bullying in high school. The characters in this book are people you can relate too, no matter who you are I'm sure you can find something in common with the people introduced in this book.
Paul Adams is the main character and the voice of the story. He is 15, 4' 10", and weighs 90 lbs.
Lily Small is a classmate of Pauls, but he remembers meeting her when they were 7, right before she punched him in the nose. She is very tall, black, and adopted.
The one thing they have in common is rock climbing.
Big is the nickname of a kind Polynesian classmate who is a big guy. He is infectiously happy and looks for the good in every situation.
Paul, Big, and Small are paired together for a group project and realize that they have more in common than they thought. They become friends and start to look out for each other at school. Lily and Paul team up for a rock climbing competition and discover that they work well together. Over the course of the story, the three of them discover some important things about life, relationships, and what friendship should look like.
While this story has a fun side to it with rock climbing and making new friends, there is also a much deeper side that addresses bullying head-on. All three main characters have experienced bullying and have developed coping mechanisms for it. There are some very sad parts and some over-the-moon happy parts. I loved this book and couldn't put it down. I think this is a book that EVERY middle and high schooler should read. It encourages people to look outside themselves and helps them see that we don't fully know what anyone else is going through.

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This was such a touching story, and I found myself hooked every moment of the way. Paul's character development was realistic and beautiful. Watching him grow stronger and face the things he was afraid of made me applaud him. However, I disliked the parts of Paul "feeling another panic attack coming on". While this would have been okay once, I wanted to read about the experience- show not tell. What does having a panic attack feel like? I also felt like Lily was more or less forgotten about through the middle of the story. While I completely understand it's the author's choice to write the story however he wants to, it would've added to the story to get more of Lily's perspective/thoughts on cancer. This is a life-changing experience, yet it was brushed over. Also, Conor's death was like a prop for Paul's own character development. It would have worked pretty well if his death gave Paul AND the others a lesson for life. Big's character was absolutely wonderful as well, however, it was easy to forget he wasn't a person going through the death of another person as well as Lily's treatment. Another small thing: the climbing rules and gym at the beginning of the story confused me, and I could only start understanding it towards the end. However, this wasn't too much of a problem. I was hooked to every moment of this story like no other. My primary concern (all of the above wrapped up) would be the scattered plots, but it was an enjoyable experience nonetheless. The characters were gripping, real, and wonderfully crafted. I look forward to the publication of this novel!

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