In Nothing is Little by Carmella Van Vleet (Holiday House, 2022), middle schooler Felix begins to come to terms with himself, his place in his family, and his identity as a person. His story is driven by his own search for the identity of his absent father, with “detective work” he hides from his mother and stepfather.
To begin with, Felix has always been happy with being short. Shortly before his story begins, he had been diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency (GHD). Treatment is necessary to help his overall health, not just his height. Since he’s known as “Shortlock Holmes” to his forensic science club friends, he is not sure how he feels about giving up his identity as “short.” In fact, he’s even hidden his new treatment from his best friend. As the book progresses, he becomes more comfortable in acknowledging his need for growth hormone therapy (GHT), and he sees that his treatment is not a big deal. His friend even says that it’s cool.
Felix’s developing comfort with his GHT throughout the book parallels his growing comfort with his changing family. He’ll soon have a new sibling, and his mother and stepfather have asked him to consider changing his last name to match theirs. That’s a lot of new things: a new medical treatment that will physically change his body, a new sibling, and a new last name. With all these new things in his life, it is no wonder that Felix feels a little lost at the beginning of his story. When he learns that his father was also short, he wonders if his father also had GHD. In hopes of finding out, Felix begins searching for clues about his father.
I enjoyed Felix’s spunky character but disliked his methods of snooping and tricking his mother and stepfather as he tried to discover more clues about his father. He was a good friend, and yet he let small things get in the way of his goals when he cheated. He was not a flat character: there was some confusion in him (was he a good or bad kid?). His character made him interesting but I would take a point off of a rating because of his lying and cheating.
I was drawn to this book because one of my children likewise receives treatment for GHD. I enjoyed seeing how this medical condition was a part of Felix’s story. Although the GHD didn’t really define him, his developing understanding of himself was a nice parallel to his increasing comfort with his new treatment.