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Eugene*Grant @MrEugeneGrant
, 18 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
Thread: Just finished this beautiful book in which the protagonist is a strong, powerful woman with #dwarfism - Trudi - living in Germany before, through, and after WW2.

This is the first piece of adult non-fantasy fiction I've read with a #dwarf main character.

1/
A dwarf person in an average height town, Trudi is, in a way, an outsider, and yet central to the community, too.

As a child, she yearns to be average height - she asks the doctor for pills to make her tall, she hangs by her arms from doorways trying to stretch her body.

2/
Children shy away from Trudi as if touching her might turn them into #dwarf people, too.

Adults act as if she is invisible and they say things they wouldn't say if other children were around. For Trudi, this is the beginning of something key...

3/
Her only friend is a boy whose mother dresses him 'like a girl'. A bond forms between them. When he transforms his appearance, she worries looking like other boys will make him *become* like other boys. "The more he shed his difference the further he seemed away from her."

4 /
She struggles at school - bringing with her "years of longing to be like the others", but this only isolates her even more.

Teachers dismiss her assertiveness for pushiness. She is frequently bullied, and yet it is she who gets in trouble when she defies the bullies.

5/
Somehow, Hegi captures perfectly the rage inside Trudi - rage I know so well and maybe other dwarf and disabled people do too - that grows from experiencing injustices on the sole basis that you are different.

For Trudi, "rage carried its own dignity".

And so it does. 🔥

6/
There are moments when Trudi hates her body, but, as a reader, you can't help but feel she is longing to love it.

She longs for acceptance & feels her body is a barrier to this. Had she been accepted, her attitude towards her beautiful dwarf body would change - I think.

7/
"If she couldn't have their acceptance, at least she'd have their stories. Because they could not accept her - they owed her something."

So she finds her power: in mining people's secrets. Ppl assume they know about her, because she's a dwarf but she knows *all* about them.

8/
Hegi also captures the scepticism & disbelief some dwarf & disabled people experience when someone first appears attracted to them - cautious of the authenticity of this person's feelings and the fearful questions: What if they're fetishizing my body? But what if they’re not?

9/
Because she is a dwarf, she's assumed to be asexual. When she's spotted w/ her boyf, ppl assume he's a sexual predator, not her partner.

Trudi herself fuels the lie knowing they don't know about her stories but she knows the truth about theirs - giving her power over them.

10/
Meanwhile, the full horror of the Holocaust is unfolding all around them.

Shops are smashed.

Friends are murdered or taken away.

Trudi and her father help to hide Jewish friends and neighbours from the Gestapo

11/
There’s a lovely scene in which she tells a little Jewish boy about an island of dwarf ppl - a beautiful island, so beautiful they want to keep it from tall ppl.

"They didn't know about [tall ppl] - that's how prejudice starts... and so they were afraid of the difference."

12/
At one point, Trudi herself is jailed by the SS after she criticises the Nazi flag. She is threatened with experiments and asked what it is like to be a dwarf person.

"Being a Zwerg [dwarf] is like carrying your deepest secret on the outside - there for everyone to see."

13/
The book isn’t perfect: there is the odd word that makes me wince, some fat-shaming, and the moment when Trudi uses a neighbour who became disabled during the war to remind herself of what she has - her own inspiration porn.

14/
Ultimately, Hegi captures the pain and also the fire that bridges pain and pride.

But she doesn't really depict anything resembling pride, which is sad. I kept waiting for Trudi to love – not accept, love – herself & her body, but this never happened & I was left wanting.

15/
Ultimately, this is a beautiful book. If you like my tweets, pls consider buying it / getting it from your library. If you want to help make the world better for dwarf people, helping us prove it is profitable to write authentic & powerful dwarf characters is a good start.

END.
NOTE to 13/ My understanding - which is limited and growing - of dwarfism & the Holocaust is that dwarf people who were murdered by the Nazis were killed *because they were Jewish* - but the *way* they were killed was because they had dwarfism. One day, I'll write another thread.
FINALLY FINALLY, I don't think I've given too much away. This book is 500 pages long. It's worth it. Read it.
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