Mackler, Carolyn. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things. Candlewick Press, 2003. 246 pages. ISBN 978-0-7636-1958-9
Fifteen year old Virginia Shreves feels like an outsider in her family. Her mother, father, brother, and sister are all skinny, talented, and all around perfect. She, on the other hand, is not. Her hair isn’t even the same color as theirs. She worries about her weight, but not nearly as much as her family does. It seems like a daily thing for her mother to mention her weight and how she needs to lose some. Her best friend has moved to Walla Walla, Washington for the year and she is feeling particularly lonely. Virginia knows the fat girls’ rules and she strictly follows them. So, when Froggy leaves after a heavy make-out session, she knows she won’t say anything at school to embarrass Froggy. Fat girls don’t kiss and tell, they are lucky to get the kiss in the first place. She ran into Froggy after school, he is taking music lessons in the afternoon and had some extra time and Virginia invited him over. It didn’t take long for the kissing to start, and she knows she’s going to let him do it again next week. With dealing with her weight issue and family, Virginia doesn’t even notice how much Froggy actually likes her.
This is a story that is true to the heart and a lot of teens can relate to. Virginia Shreves is the black sheep of her dark-haired, thin, talented, perfect family. She is blond-haired, round, and not very talented. She feels like an outsider, adopted, or maybe a mix-up at the hospital and was supposed to be another family’s child. She knows she doesn’t fit in at home, but when her family members remind her of it, it just makes her that much more depressed, and when Virginia gets depressed, she eats. I can’t imagine how horrible it would be to constantly have your mother tell you that you need to lose weight. And after her best friend move away for a while, she had no one to support her. This just makes her situation that much worst. She is living in a circle of pain. She is being told she is fat, which depresses her into eating, which in turn causes her to gain weight. It’s hard to get out of a situation like that and what she needed from her family was support, not a constant reminder that she is overweight. Virginia ends up becoming strong-willed and learning to live happily with her body type and the result of this causes her to lose a little weight anyway because she is no longer depressed and eating so much. I think Mackler captures this situation elegantly and presents a story that teens can read and feel familiar with. This story could really help a teen that is struggling with similar problems and show them that they should love who they are, not who other people make you out to be.
She always follows the fat girls’ rules of conduct. She knows she not skinny, but does everybody have to remind her?
Carolyn Mackler is the author The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book, Tangled, Guyaholic, Vegan Virgin Valentine, and Love and Other Four-Letter Words. Her most recent novel, The Future of Us, co-written with bestselling author Jay Asher, received starred reviews, and film rights have been sold to Warner Brothers. Her novels have been published in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Korea, the Netherlands, Denmark, Israel, and Indonesia.
She has contributed to anthologies for teens, such as Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories. She wrote a short story for Thirteen, edited by James Howe, and one for Sixteen, edited by Megan McCafferty. In 2008, she was a judge for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. She lives in New York City with her husband and two young sons. She is currently at work on her seventh novel.
She is the black sheep of her family.
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Why I included this book:
I remembered reading about this book last semester and thought I would give it a try, it was a surprisingly good book and think teens girls would really enjoy it.