Title: The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things
Author: Carolyn Mackler
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date published: April 3, 2018
Page Count: 256
Fifteen-year-old Virginia feels like a plus-sized black sheep in her family, especially next to her perfect big brother Byron. Not to mention her best friend has moved, leaving Virginia to navigate an awkward relationship with a boy alone. He might like her now . . . but what if he ever looks under all her layers of clothes?
In order to survive, Virginia decides to follow a “Fat Girl Code of Conduct,” which works, until the unthinkable causes her family’s façade to crumble. As her world spins out of orbit, she realizes that being true to herself might be the only way back.
Warning: This book brings up subjects like self-harm, eating disorders, and sexual violence.
The story follows Virginia Shreves as she navigates her way through sophomore year, dealing with love, family, and loving herself.
Life is already hard being larger than the average fifteen-year-old girl. But its even more difficult when your family is picture perfect. With her trophy brother and flawless sister, Byron and Anais, Virginia feels like she will never reach the expectations of being a Shreve. Despite the facade that her mother tries so hard to keep, her family is less perfect. When a tragedy hits, Virginia begins to question her family’s values and is propelled into a journey of rebellion and self-discovery.
The characters were really interesting. I loved how Mackler named all of them. There’s a Virginia Woolf, Lord Byron, Lady Anais, and Froggy Welsh the Fourth. As well as a Brie, Brittany, and Brianna. Looking back, the names alone would have cracked me up.
Needless to say, my favourite character is Virginia. Virginia was a really strong character and had some major character development. In the beginning, she tried to build a strong facade as she faced everyone else. Though her insecurities show through her thoughts and her decision making. It’s evident how the little comments that her parents make affect Virginia. As the novel continues, these subtle actions really add up to making her feel so undeserving and worthless, leading up to incidents of self-harm. However, slowly, she begins to stand up for herself and for others. Through facing her struggles, she builds the courage to think for herself and accept herself just the way she is.
But even during the lows, Virginia’s good humour makes it lighthearted. Her sly remarks and jokes make the book much easier to read. Overall, Virginia was a really likable character that grew on me. I found myself cheering for her towards the end of the book and celebrating as she learned to love herself and her body.
Mackler did place a huge emphasis on family, and their role in Virginia’s life. The relationships were really well fleshed out and quite interesting. Virginia’s mother was one of the more important figures in the book, as she tries to be in control of Virginia’s life: what she wears, how she looks, and how much she weighs. As the story progressed, I really started to wish I could climb into the book and smack her. Luckily, Virginia was able to resolve everything, and their relationship ended off at a higher note.
I loved how the book had a light romantic side that didn’t overshadow the plot and other important ideas. It’s nice to see how anyone can have a happy ending.
The book touched on quite a few heavy topics. I found them dealt with well. It was interesting in how they took some of these issues in a different perspective that isn’t always thought of (like the offender’s point of view rather than the victim’s). However, it had more potential to be fleshed out more. While some parts of the plot seemed a bit unrealistic, it didn’t take away from the story.
The novel was relatively fast-paced, and I really enjoyed it. I was able to finish it in two sittings (which is good considering my reading block).
To sum up, I enjoyed the book and was happy that I decided to pick it up. Virginia is such an endearing character to read about and her story opened my eyes up to new perspectives.