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.
Yeah, sounds pretty cliche, right? Boo-hoo, I'm not perfect, I'll die in a hole sort of thing? Well, now that you've crossed the river and reason and jumped to conclusions, I'll say that this was one of the best books I've ever read.
When I first saw it, I was pretty sure I'd eventually choke on the romance and spend the next five days puking up little hearts. Even worse? There was a huge possibility for that to happen. The main character, Virginia, did have a sort-of boyfriend. Well, he liked her and she was pretty sure he didn't want to be seen in public with her, which is pretty realistic for real life teen romances. Her touchiness on the subject and the fearful what-does-he-want thoughts I loved, I think they really added character and realism.
The family structure, sadly, was very realistic too. Virginia feels like they never notice anything about her but fat, rebellion, or fat. It doesn't really help that her mother didn't notice Virginia's A+ on a huge language arts assignment put on the fridge, but she did notice when a picture of a model (dubbed "the Food Police") was put on. Or that her father hasn't been much for interacting before, but once she got onto a diet, he noticed Virgina a lot more.
The strain to be perfect was very prevalent in this book, and I almost felt a little bad when Virginia loosened up a bit and started rebelling against her mother's rules. The one thing that really bothered me about this was that the first time she really rebelled was something big, with no hints leading up to it. You don't just suddenly start skipping school, I mean, there had to be some better reasons for it. And then she buys a non-refundable plane ticket without her parents knowing. I mean, I'd have liked some kind of hint that she didn't like being the good girl before that.
Otherwise the emotions were handled well and focused with equal ability. It really changed how I felt depending on what the character was feeling, it was done just that perfectly.
The characters were amazing in this book. No Sues, no sparkles, no need for a refund. But seriously, each of them had a unique, interesting, and realistic.
I'd recommend this book without hesitation.