Saturday 17 July 2010

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

The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn MacklerThe Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler - 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.

I was really surprised with the route The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler took. I've read a few books about being over weight now, and in 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 of 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 do 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 heard 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.'
'"Virginia Shreves," says Briar, cracking 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 that attractive the way I am.'
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!

Add to Goodreads

Published: 3rd July 2006
Publisher: Walker
Carolyn Mackler's Website


  1. I really enjoyed Mackler's Vegan, Virgin, Valentine and Guyaholic so I should definitely pick this up. I'm very intrigued that it didn't take the course you expected it to.

  2. I requested this at the library a few days ago! I read "Love and other Four Letter Words" by Carolyn Mackler and loved it. The title intrigued me, and since I liked her work, I thought to pick it up.

    Great review! I can't wait to read it!

    (oh, what a horribly bland comment this is. I am SO off my game. XD)

  3. Argh I hated Virginia's mother! She's horrible! Not that her dad is much better, with his "skinny women are more attractive" comments. Gross. And of course neither of them are as bad as her brother. I really enjoyed the book through. Bad families are pretty much the easiest way to get me emotionally hooked on a story and reading it very very fast!

  4. I've seen this one around, but have never picked it up.

  5. Sophie - Oooh, it comes right out of the blue, but it was really good! I'm sure you'll love it!

    Amelia - Thank you! I hope you enjoy it when you read it, it's a pretty good book! :) Not a bland comment, it's fine! :)

    Julianne - Oh, I know! I wanted to strangle her, she was such a cow! I know exactly what you mean, but bad families also make me want to put the book down, because they wind me up so much! Lol.

    Alex - Oh, you should give it a go, it's pretty good!