...the deepest and most dramatic of Zigman’s six novels, is a profound reflection on her upbringing ... Showcasing Zigman’s emotional range, Small World is spiced by the gravity of its real-life provenance. The novel is as poignant as it is funny, as thought-provoking as it is witty, and searingly relatable.
Zigman weaves incisive, revealing glimpses into Joyce and Lydia’s early family life, their shared childhood that included both benign and active neglect ... This is no pity party, however. Zigman is terrific at melding heartbreaking situations with humorous, evocative details without once veering off into saccharine sentimentality. The Mellishman sisters’ story is alive with vibrant details ... In a tale that’s partly about fraught and ruptured relationships, Zigman’s ability to elicit the transformative magic that happens when people find true connection with others makes these pages glow.
Zigman's tenderly told novel is a realistic rendering of what it's like to care for and love a disabled child, and the toll that love takes on parents and siblings. It's also about the bonds that sisters share and how, in the case of the Mellishmans, unresolved grief nearly breaks them...[but] laced with the promise of a brighter future.