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The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things

Review

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things

Virginia Shreves, heroine of THE EARTH, MY BUTT, AND OTHER BIG ROUND THINGS, feels like the ugly duckling. In her high-achieving, blonde, beautiful and thin family, chubby, brown-haired, average Virginia sticks out like a sore thumb. Her best friend has moved all the way to Washington State, and Virginia doesn't like any of the shallow, popular girls at her New York City private school. What's more, she is sure that none of the other kids at school --- especially the boys --- could possibly like someone who's carrying a few extra pounds.

Virginia would love to lose weight, but she can't seem to do it for the right reasons. Her mom, who used to be overweight herself and is now obsessed with dieting and fitness, can't understand why Virginia is unable to slim down. Her dad, who is obsessed with thin women's bodies, bribes Virginia with a shopping spree if she can lose some weight.

Virginia thinks her only ally is her older brother, Byron, who she has always idolized. But when Byron, a student at Columbia, is charged with a terrible crime, Virginia is forced to reevaluate all of the opinions she has of him, including his treatment of her and his comments about her weight. Tired of her family's avoidance of their problems, Virginia decides that she is never going to make anyone else in her family happy unless she makes herself happy first. Soon she's traveling cross-country, getting pierced and dyed, and finding her own ways to feel good about herself and her body. She may never be as thin as the rest of her family, but at least she can find ways to feel good about herself and her talents.

Carolyn Mackler's funny but touching story about being an outsider will appeal to fans of her earlier novel, LOVE AND OTHER FOUR-LETTER WORDS, as well as to readers who enjoy the novels of Meg Cabot and Megan McCafferty. Although the ending is far from satisfactory --- the webzine that Virginia creates comes out of nowhere and is a little too convenient a way for her to have a group of instant friends, for example --- the lessons Virginia learns about self-worth and self-acceptance go down easy and will appeal to anyone who has ever felt like an outsider, whether at school or in their own family.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on July 14, 2003

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things
by Carolyn Mackler

  • Publication Date: July 14, 2003
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick
  • ISBN-10: 0763619582
  • ISBN-13: 9780763619589