Duck Duck Book

19 – the earth, my butt
06.9.2005, 12:03 am
Filed under: fiction

The earth, my butt, and other big, round things / Carolyn Mackler.
Cambridge, MA : Candlewick Press, 2003.
[MCL call number: y MACKLER; 27 copies, one hold]

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things was recommended to me by a teenaged library volunteer a year or so ago, and last week I finally got around to reading it. It’s about Virginia Shreves, who is fifteen years old and has what she describes in the first few pages as a “larger-than-average body.” Virginia’s mother, father, sister, and brother are all thin, handsome, athletic high achievers, and Virginia feels like she’s in the wrong family. Her best friend has moved to the other side of the country, her teen-psychologist mother and businessman father don’t pay her much attention when they’re not worrying obliquely about her weight, and generally things are at a steady low in her life.

When one of Virginia’s perfect family members does something very un-perfect and everyone has to deal with it, she begins to see her life a little more clearly, and the meat of the story is about what this does for her. The book is honest, compelling, and easy to read. The pain Virginia deals with about her body, other people’s ideas about it, and her own understanding of what it takes to be comfortable with herself is clear and sometimes very difficult to read, but overall her story is refreshing. Virginia’s actions and ideas are not always in line with what readers might imagine for her, which makes clear what a realistically drawn character she is. And, when push comes to shove, she makes decisions, takes responsibility, and solves problems — thus providing great relief to readers like me who find her sympathetic.

But more importantly, The Earth, My Butt is a satisfying story. I read the whole book in one burst and didn’t want to take breaks even for dinner (!), I was that interested in the characters and the story.


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