Book 47: 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.
I read this book in about five hours. I was hooked from the beginning and couldn’t put it down until I finished it. This is exactly the sort of book that I’m trying to write. I just hope that mine ends up half as awesome as this one. As a formerly fat teenager (and currently fat adult), I could definitely relate to Virginia. Yes, she complains a lot, but that’s what you do when you’re a teenager – especially a fat teenager with no friends and a guy you like but are afraid to be seen with in public.
This book has a great message. It’s a bit heavy-handed at times, but not so much that it really bothered me. Virginia doesn’t change overnight, but she slowly starts to realize that she’s not the one who needs to change, and she starts to feel more comfortable in her own skin. I’m 23 and am still dealing with the sort of body image issues that Virginia’s dealing with. I think this would be a great book for teenage girls who feel out of place because of their weight. As it turns out, she’s not really as fat as I first pictured her, but I’m okay with that. At the end of ninth grade, I was about 30 pounds overweight, and I wasn’t happy with myself. After years of yoyo dieting, I’m considerably more overweight than that, and I probably could have avoided that if I had just learned to be happy with who I was. I was glad to see that Virginia avoided that fate.
There are some parts of the book that I felt weren’t really developed as much as I would have liked, and there were a few parts that I felt were a bit unrealistic, but the parts that I liked were enough to make up for the parts that I didn’t like.