50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2005
As a former undernourished-looking child and a current plus-sized 213-lb woman, I loved The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler. Don't take a look at the title and lump this book into the Teen Bridget Jones-Chick Lit category. Although it resembles one of those books of the ever fast growing genre, The Earth...is remarkably insightful, introspective, multi-layered, and well written. Carolyn creates a wonderfully multi-dimensional character in the form of Virginia Shreves.
Virginia is a blond-haired and overweight 15-year old who does not fit in with her over-achieving, athletic, slim, and brown-haired family. Virginia is not only an outsider at school, but an outsider at home as well. Like her mindless eating and magazine reading, she encourages the isolation as shield. If no one can notice her, no one can criticize or tease her about her weight. Virginia even dabbles in self-mutilation to deal with the pain she feels about being a fat girl in world where being thin is in.
Unlike other plus-size heroines, Virginia has a grasp of her sexuality and takes a firmer grasp of it as the novel progresses. Virginia makes out with her unofficial boyfriend, and enjoys it even when the size of her body makes her nervous. She also masturbates and is not ashamed feeling arousal towards boys. Mackler writes these scenes, there are a few but not too many, with careful wording. It is never vulgar or sappy. It is plain and unobtrusive.
A tragedy in Virginia's family forces her to take charge of her mental, physical, emotional, and social health. By the end of the novel, which I read in little over a day, you're feeling as energized and as unstoppable as Virginia. The best thing about the book is that Virginia's boost in attitude has absolutely nothing to do with her weight. (I won't spoil the ending by tell you whether or not she slims down.)
This is the best book featuring a plus-sized teen girl since Life in the Fat Lane by Cherie Bennett. I recommend it to all teens, regardless of size, struggling with body image and self esteem issues. I also think this book, like Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, would make an excellent choice for a Mothers-Daughters Book Club.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2003
The book The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler is truly an awesome read. The book is about an average highschooler named Virginia Shreves, the only thing not exactly average about her is her weight. Virginia is bigger then normal and knows it and lives by what she calls the fat girl code of conduct. You get to know Virginia as a character and the issues in her life, one of them being her having to realize her brother is a date raper and her mother may never accept her for who she really is big boned and all. The book is humerous but also touches on some topics that are not so funny, like eating disorders, becasue shes not happy with her weight. It also has romance in it, which i think is the perfect mix. Carolyn Mackler's book is a read worth your time and a book you will regret dearly for passing up.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2003
As I was perusing Amazon one night last week, I stumbled upon Carolyn Mackler's new novel, "The Earth, my butt, and other big round things." I took a 'look inside', and feel in love with Virginia Shreves, its' main character.
I've never related so well to a fictional character so vividly before. All those feelings of no self worth or confidence came flooding back to me, and it was very real to me.
Chapter one has Virginia lip locked with Froggy, a boy from school who has an hour to kill before his trombone lesson. They spend an hour in her bedroom kissing every Monday. When his hands start roaming, she pretty much sends him packing.
Being overweight, Virginia feels very uncomfortable with the idea of someone of the opposite sex seeing her body. She doesn't even look in the mirror, at least not yet.
I am not one to give much away in my reviews. I will tell you that you will laugh alot, most likely cry(i did), smile, and just love reading it. I am very happy I bought my own copy.
As Virginia's story progresses and the 'perfect' shell of a family shatters, she is transformed. I loved this 'coming of age story'....
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2003
This book was just too good, it tells the story of Verginia Shreves, and her dealing with her best friends move to Walla Walla Washington, and her weird, and sometimes embarrassing first love. And while that seems like a total "Yeah-sounds-like-any-other-first-love-teenage-book-of-growing-up-and-finding-yourself" it really is much more then that. Virginia's story gets much deeper when her brother, (who also happens to be the one person in the entire world that she admires and looks up to the most) makes a huge life changing mastake that will follow him for the rest of his life. And while all this is happening Verginia decides that she is not going to take any of her mothers [stuff] anymore and stop looking the way her mother wants her to look, and starts being the person that she has always been deep down inside, and not just the fat, shy, loser girl that people once knew her as. I truly loved this book and recomend it to anyone who loves to read like I do.
26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2004
After reading Carolyn Mackler's "Love and Other Four Letter Words", I borrowed this book--the author's second--from a friend. From the description and the first few pages, I thought "The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things" would be a fresh, funny, and entertaining read, but I was less than satisfied.
The novel revolves around Virginia Shreves, a teeanger in NYC who feels like an outcast because her older siblings appear to be near-perfect, she is overweight and insecure about her body, and her best friend just moved cross-country. Throughout the book, Virginia deals with all sorts of teenager-ish problems, from fitting in to coping with her parents to her first experiences with the opposite sex.
Though I liked the premise of the book, it wasn't really an interesting read. Virgina spent so much time complaining about her weight that it made *me* feel fat. I don't know if the author was the most insecure person in the world, but the story's heroine didn't seem like the average teen to me, and most of her rants were very extreme; it was hard to laugh at certain parts, even if it was clear they were written to be funny.
The book did have a few honest laughs and a believable plotline, but Virginia was so angsty it was more annoying than entertaining to read her "diary entries".
Maybe I just had high expectations after I enjoyed Carolyn Mackler's "Love and Other Four-Letter Words" so much, but I didn't enjoy this book and I wouldn't reccommend it.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2003
Virginia Shreves isn't what you would call a small girl. She's more of a round girl. She thinks that she's fairly comfortable with her size, until her best friend, Shannon, moves to Walla Walla, Washington, so her father can study onions, and she begins "fooling around" with Froggy Welsh the Fourth. The only problem, is that she can't speak to him during school hours, because she feels that she should follow the "Fat Girl Code of Conduct." Now she's not only depressed and lonely, but her Psychologist mother is trying to drag her to a nutritionist, and her best friend is now running around with a new crowd in Walla Walla, and doesn't have as much time to e-mail Virginia. Now Virginia's decided to try a new method to get herself to lose weight, and become attractive to everyone, a way that could hurt her. Badly.
After reading "Love and Other Four Letter Words," I anticipated Mackler's newest release "The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things." I wasn't disappointed. Virginia is a fresh new personality (and body-type), in a sea of book characters who are tall, thin, and flat-chested. She appeals to girls who don't fit that mold. Her imperfections make her not only funny, but extremely relatable. Her boy troubles, best friend troubles, and eating disorder will teach girls of all ages to be happy inside their own skin. Whether that skin is thick or thin, black or white. A must have book to keep treasured for years to come.<...
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2006
The Earth my Butt and other Big Round things a book about a teenage girl, who has had social problems. She was over-weight, she never had a boyfriend, had many friends. She meets a boy who she really likes, and they start to experiment with every Monday after school. Vanessa has problems in and out of school. She experiences many different things in and out of school as she continues with her school year.
Vanessa's brother has some problems during his school year, and has to come home for a little bit. My favorite part of the book was watching Vanessa get stronger. Watching her being able to talk to her parents more and more. Especially when she has that moment with her father, and they understand eachother.
I would recommend this book to any girl in 7-9 grade. It is a great book, and many teenagers might be able to relate to Vanessa's problems. Read it, it's a good book. To read this book not only opens your mind about other people that surround you in and out of school, but it opens your mind about yourself.
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2004
Virginia Shreeves is a teenage girl with ordinary teenage problems. Virginia is an overweight teenager and is always pressured by her mother to lose weight. Her mother is like this because when she was a teenager she was also overweight but now, is skinny as can be. Her father is a slim man with a very good job. She also has a beautiful sister who is also skinny but does not live at home anymore. She is in Africa for the Peace Core. Finally, Virginia has a brother, Byron, who is very handsome and seems to be perfect. At the beginning of the book, Virginia only has one good friend. It's her best friend, Shannon. Shannon moved to Walla Walla, Washington for the whole school year. This is hard for Virginia in school because she doesn't really have any other friends. This is especially hard at lunch when she does not have a table to sit at. Ms. Crowley notices this and tells Virginia she can go to her room during lunch. Virginia goes to her room almost every day. Ms.Crowley and Virginia become really close. Another person very important in her life is Froggy Welsh the Fourth. They like each other and they hang out at her apartment sometimes but, Virginia follows her "Fat Girl Code of Conduct." It says that she can't show affection for any boy in public. They get in a fight and don't talk for a long time. Around this time, Byron date rapes a girl at a party and is suspended for the semester at Columbia. This helps Virginia realize that her brother isn't perfect. That no one in her family is perfect. Virginia has been on a diet for a while at this point but, food is her comfort and she needed it at this time. Shannon helped her get away from everything by inviting her to go to Seattle with her and her parents for thanksgiving. Virginia's parents don't want her to go so; Virginia buys a non-refundable ticket to Seattle. Her parents are upset with her, but still allow her to go. In Seattle, even though Virginia knows her mom won't like it, she gets her eyebrow pierced. When she gets back home, Virginia misses Shannon a lot. For Christmas, the family always attends a fancy party at a friend's house. For the party Virginia buys a purple dress, her Mom does not like it. She says it doesn't go with her hair. After this comment, Virginia dies her hair purple to match her dress. On the way home, even though her Mom doesn't like the things she has been doing recently, she tells her that she wishes she was as brave as Virginia. Virginia likes that her Mom admires this about her. When Virginia gets back to school she finds out one of her teachers has died from a heart attack. Virginia has made a new friend in school, her name is Alyssa. Alyssa helps Virginia start a club for a website she would like to make. It's for teens that want to speak there mind. The website is great, many people helped, as well as Froggy. This is when Froggy and Virginia become friends again. The ending to this book is fabulous. Overall, I enjoyed the book very much. I loved Virginia's emotional and physical journeys throughout the entire book.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2005
The book's themes:
1. Weight. As you can see from the title, this book contains a lot of heartfelt info about personal weight and image. Virginia is a good example by doing the wrong thing and learning from it. I loved the scene in the book when Virginia realizes that the girl throwing up in the stall next to her is the skinny, popular girl. Very satisfying.
2. Relationships. Several in particular, Virginia's romance with Froggy, her relationship with her obsessive mother, friends, and so on.
3. What's perfect? My favorite and most deep theme of all. Until her brother is temporarily suspended from Columbia for date rape, Virginia and the world thinks of the Shreves (excluding her) as perfect. But clearly Byron is shallow and un-perfect, and her parents follow a similar suit.
But my advice? Read the book and decide for yourself. I think you will find it is well-written and goes into a lot of issues presented to girls of Middle, High, and Upper Elementary (5th and 6th Grade)Schools all across America (and also all over the world.)
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2003
I picked this book up because I thought it would be funny. Little did I know I would end up balling my eyes out and relating to a lot of it. It was a wonderul book. If you liked the Princess Diaries than you will love this. I sat down to start at 10:33 p.m. I read it in one sitting and finished at 2:35. The feeling of being rejected by society and the ever evil high school "queens", the feeling of the pressure to be slim AND beautiful, the feeling of wanting to crawl in a hole or anywhere that is away from your family, and the feeling of worrying wether you will pass a class or not and all of the other feelings in this book are normal feelings every teenager that has or will exist will experience. Plus, her insicurities and panics remind me of Mia from The Princess Diaries. I cried and cried and cried and loved every page of it. READ THIS BOOK, OR SOMEDAY YOU WILL REGRET THAT YOU PASSED IT UP!
I think adults who read this will see a little part of their high school selves in the main charecter Virinia Shreeves.