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

Virginia Shreves is an outcast in her own family.  For starters she’s overweight while her parents and brother and sister are thin, health nuts.  Her mother is an adolescent psychologist who obsesses with her Virginia’s eating and exercise habits.  Virginia lives by the “Fat Girl Code of Conduct”, which basically are a set of rules for her interactions with boys.  For example:

3. Go further than skinny girls.

4. If you can’t sell him on your body, you’d better overcompensate with sexual perks.

The kiss of death comes when her best friend moves across the country.  To a teenager losing the one person you can safely hand out with is devastating.  Another blow happens when her seemingly perfect brother is accused of date rape at Columbia University.

I love the transformation of Virginia.  She stands up to her parents and discovers who she is at the same time.  I love that Carolyn Mackler did not make Virginia lose a bunch of weight to gain self esteem.  She does start exercising in a kick boxing class.  She finally says to her dad that her weight is not up for discussion, not now or ever!  I remember having a similar conversation with my own dad. 

Virginia turns a corner when she goes to visit her best friend.  As a whim, she gets an eyebrow piercing.  When she gets positive feedback about it from her friend’s family, she starts to take more chances.  After hiding in bagging clothes, Virginia starts buying outfits that flatter her curves. 

My favorite moment is when Virginia’s mom remarks that blonds don’t look good in purple.  Virginia dyes her hair purple to match the dress!  She then creates a webzine with her classmates and gains a new circle of friends.

My original booktalk:

“What do a fat girl and a moped have in common?  They’re both fun to ride, as long as your friends don’t see you!”  Nice Eh?  I’m a fat girl.  I’d have to agree with this joke because Froggy  ( I’m serious! That is his actual name) won’t talk to me in the light of day.  It is perfectly ok for him to make out with me every Monday before his trombone lesson.  (Hmmm, trombone… maybe that’s why he’s not a bad kisser.)  But he won’t talk to me at school.  I wouldn’t dare go up to him… I have to stick to my Fat Girl Code of Conduct which forbids it.  My life kinda sucks.  My best friend in the world, Shannon has moved across the country to Walla Walla of all places.  My perfectly sized parents want me on a diet.  I must be adopted.  And my supposedly perfect brother is now a criminal.  My name is Virginia.  If you can handle my world, read The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things.

 

Book Club Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever experienced other people talking about you when they thought you were not around, like Virginia in the girl’s room?
  2. Why do you think getting the eyebrow piercing changed Virginia. Would you do the same?
  3. We know why Virginia kept her make out sessions with Froggy a secret. Why do you think he did?
  4. Who would you rather be, Virginia, or the popular girls who dissed her?
  5. Have you ever rebelled against your parents? How did it change you?
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