The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things – Carolyn Mackler
Genre: YA; Realistic Fiction
Printz Honor Book, 2004
Summary: Fifteen-year-old Virginia Shreves struggles with low self-esteem resulting from her size. While her family seems pretty close to perfect in every way, Virginia doesn’t feel like she fits in because of her weight. When allegations against one of her family members begin to emerge, however, Virginia ’s life is turned upside down and she discovers that things may not be as perfect as they seem.
Review: The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things was a fast-paced, well-written book filled with wholly believable characters that many readers can relate to.
For me, one of the best parts of this book was how authentically the author was able to capture the high school experience. Many teens feel like outcasts or misfits and struggle with self-esteem, regardless of what they look like or how talented they are, and having the narrator expounding on the fact that things aren’t really all that great is something that is infinitely relatable. I also really liked that even with the people in seemingly ideal situations, all wasn’t as it seemed and they struggled, too. It really emphasizes that struggles are universal, and even when you think someone has it all, they may not feel that way about themselves.
Another thing that really stood out to me in this book was “The Fat Girl Code of Conduct” that Virginia lived by. In it, she outlined what she could expect from relationships and the like because of her size, and it was heartbreaking, yet insightful.
One of the most memorable characters was Virginia ’s mother. Virginia's mom was obsessed with exercise and staying in shape, and this obsession developed a nice contrast to Virginia’s own struggles. In Virginia ’s mind, it seemed like nothing she did was enough to please her parents, especially her mother, and her mother's obsession with weight gain was probably a contributing factor to Virginia’s own insecurities.
The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things was an insightful novel that accurately captures many of the trials and tribulations of being a teenager. If you’re looking for a book with a relatable narrator or have enjoyed any of the readalikes listed below, give it a try.
Read-alikes: The DUFF – Kody Keplinger, Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have – Allen Zadoff