Saturday, October 2, 2010
Book Review: The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
Fifteen-year-old Virginia Shreves has a larger-than-average body and a plus-size inferiority complex. She lives on the Web, snarfs junk food, and follows the "Fat Girl Code of Conduct." Her stuttering best friend has just moved to Walla Walla (of all places). Her new companion, Froggy Welsh the Fourth (real name), has just succeeded in getting his hand up her shirt, and she lives in fear that he’ll look underneath. Then there are the other Shreves: Mom, the successful psychologist and exercise fiend; Dad, a top executive who ogles thin women on TV; and older siblings Anaïs and rugby god Byron, both of them slim and brilliant. Delete Virginia, and the Shreves would be a picture-perfect family. Or so she’s convinced. And then a shocking phone call changes everything.
My Thoughts: This book brought back so many memories of my high school years. While I was never overweight, I hated my body to the point of starving myself. I felt Virginia's insecurities, her anger at her dysfuntional family and her hurt at being ridiculed by the "popular" girls at school. This book made me cry, laugh and want to throw things in anger for Virginia.
This book touches on so much that a teen can relate too! Virginia's mother, an adolescent psychologist, ignores all the problems in her own family and prefers to see her family as "perfect". Virginia's father isn't a huge presence in the book but he's often at work or taking time with her older brother. Anais, Virginia's older sister is away in the Peace Corps and Byron, Virginia's brother who she has always put up on a pedestal, treats her horribly and only when he gets in serious trouble does Virginia see how he really is. This story touches on denial, body image, sexuality, eating disorders and slightly on date rape. It is a book that I think most (older) teens will be able to relate too.
The only thing I didn't like about the book was how quickly Virginia overcame her obstacles. How easily the date rape issue was resolved and how it never resolved the issue of the girl with an eating disorder. In real life, things don't get so easily resolved. In one long weekend, Virginia overcame her insecurities and stood up to her parents. She overcame her insecurities at school and everyone there accepted her and liked her. It was just slightly on the unrealistic side in that aspect.
*As a parent, I would not let my pre-adolescent teen read this book. It dealt with issues that I felt were too mature for anyone under the age of 16 but that is just my opinion and disclaimer*