Review: The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things

Fifteen-year-old Virginia Shreves has a larger-than-average body and a plus-size inferiority complex, especially when she compares herself to her slim, brilliant, picture-perfect family. But that’s before a shocking phone call — and a horrifying allegation — about her rugby-star brother changes everything. With irreverent humor and surprising gravity, Carolyn Mackler creates an endearingly blunt heroine who speaks to every teen who struggles with family expectations, and proves that the most impressive achievement is to be true to yourself.–From Goodreads

Carolyn Mackler’s
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things was a 2004 Printz Honor Book. This means that it was recognized for its literary excellence, which it deserves, but I think it also merits an award for best title ever. Mackler’s slim book shows that you can have plus-sized imperfections without being plus-sized, a lesson which helps Virginia realize that her weight does not make her an inferior member of her family. While I wouldn’t advise teens to push their boundaries quite as far as Virginia does, I do admire the sense of confidence and autonomy she develops as she begins to speak up for herself.

Some readers were critical of Ginny’s weight loss toward the end of the book, suggesting that it invalidates Mackler’s message. I would argue, though, that overeating is often a symptom of some larger emotional problem, and that in finding ways to deal with her emotions, and in discovering a healthy way to blow off steam, shedding pounds is a sign of Virginia’s new found strengths.

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