Monday, November 30, 2009


Mackler, Carolyn. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things. Candlewick Press, 2005 (c2003). 244 p. PBK $8.99 ISBN 978-0763620912

SUMMARY: "Feeling like she does not fit in with the other members of her family, who are all thin, brilliant, and good-looking, fifteen-year-old Virginia tries to deal with her self-image, her first physical relationship, and her disillusionment with some of the people closest to her."

RISKS: Descriptions of sexual activity, alcohol use, eating disorders, vulgar language

EVALUATION: Of all the "heartbreaking" teen novels out there, I think this one bears the label with more than the usual melancholy. The ending was rewarding, but I was crying through every other chapter (and I should point out, laughing a bit more often than that). There is something so endearing, so real, and so universal about Virginia's character. She gets good grades, she makes lists, she's trying to fit in and find her way through the school year without her best friend around, and she lets her impulses take over a little bit. But what makes these things endearing is the way Mackler created Virginia's voice with a little pep, a little panic, and a lot of authentic teen cynicism. The ending is rounded off with a good dose of self-acceptance and assertiveness on Virginia's part, and a lot of hope.

READER'S ANNOTATION: For Virginia, everyone seems worried about how she looks, and Virginia is starting to think they are right. But, the fight of her life comes when she realizes that the only opinion that matters is her own.

TOPICS: high schools; weight control; self-perception; family problems; date rape; depression; New York, NY;

AWARDS: ALA Best Books for Young Adults, 2004; Michael L. Printz Honor, 2004; Arizona: Grand Canyon Reader Award Nominees, 2008; Indiana: Eliot Rosewater Award Nominees, 2006; Maryland: Black-eyed Susan Award Nominees, 2006; New Jersey: Garden State Teen Book Award Nominees, 2006; South Carolina: YA Book Award Nominees, 2006; Tennessee: Volunteer State Book Award Nominees, 2006; Kentucky: Bluegrass Award Nominees, 2005; Texas: Tayshas Reading List, 2005; Michigan: Thumbs Up Award Nominees, 2004; Washington, D.C.: Capitol Choices List, 2004

Ages 14-17

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