The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler - Virginia Shreves has a "larger-than-average" body and a medium-sized inferiority complex. Her mum is an exercise fiend, her dad whistles at skinny women, and her siblings are gorgeous, clever, and impossible to live up to. They're all people Virginia thinks the world of. In fact, Virginia thinks the world of everyone but herself. Then, a phone call changes everything... From Amazon UK
I was really surprised with the route The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things took. I've read a few books about being over weight now, and each there are similar themes - comfort eating, remarks from peers, pressure from family. This book has all those elements, plus more. The phone call mentioned in the blurb leads to a huge change for everyone in the family, and it's not directly anything to do with Virginia herself, but it effects her like everyone else.
Virginia is a big girl in an otherwise slim, beautiful, "perfect" family. Her parents adore their two older children, but Virginia feels like they're disappointed with her, the family's one flaw. I cannot tell you how mad Virginia's mother made me! An adolescent psychologist who deals with teen problems on a regular basis, she should know how to approach things with Virginia. But for wanting a perfect family, the slightest remark is belittling to Virginia. Her mother is a hypocrital cow, and I really disliked her.
'Mom has a hard time talking about my body. Her shrink side wants to reassure me that I'm fine the way I am, accept myself, all that self-esteem stuff. But her Mom side wants me to be thin and perfect, like the rest of the Shreves. The end result is she can barely say the word "fat" around me. She uses euphemisms such as "heavy" and "like I used to be."' (p45)
With her self-esteem pretty low anyway, this doesn't help. Nor does the words and actions of most other people she comes across. You can just feel her sadness pour through the pages.
'Not fat fat. More like chubby.
Enough so I'm picked last in gym for any activity has anything to do with running, climbing ropes, or propelling oneself over a horse. Enough so I've hears people refer to me as plump, as if being lickened to a vine-ripe tomato is some kind of compliment. Enough so family friends, upon comparing me to my skinny siblings, raise their eyebrows as high as McDonald's golden arches.' (p24)
'"Virginia Shreves," says Briar, crcking up. "That chubby girl."
"No way!" Brie shrieks. "I never knew they were related."
"Of course they are," says Briar. "It's not like Shreves is a common name."
I bite down hard on the insides of my cheeks. That chubby girl.
After a moment Brie says, "All I can say is, if I were that fat, I'd kill myself."' (p36)
'Dad picks a bit of cashew nut out of his teeth. "You've got a great face, Ginny. Think how prettier you could be if you lost twenty or thirty pounds."
I feel as if I've been punched in the stomach. I've always known Dad was absent on the day they handed out tact. And I've always known Dad was a fan of thin women. But he never said it so bluntly - that I'm not tha attractive the way I am.' (p83)
It's just really so sad, and how she deals with her feelings is just heart breaking. Then the phone call comes. I won't spoil the story, but it's the beginning of Virginia realising her family isn't as perfect as she's always thought, or as her Mom has tried to pretend. The pressure to please everyone else slowly lifts off her shoulders. With the help of a few brilliant people - Mrs Crowley, her best mate Shannon, Dr Love - Virginia's attitude changes. It's not about size, it's about being healthy and happy.
Watching Virginia along her journey is sometimes painful, but it's so amazing to see her come through the other side stronger! This is another book where the main character comes to a positive ending through her own doing, rather than with help from diets and make-up, or from guys. It's wonderful! More books like this please! This really is a great story! I really recommend it!
Published: 3rd July 2006
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