The Earth, My Butt, & Other Big Round Things: A Review

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an exceptional novel.

It is a character-driven story about 15-year-old Virginia Shreves who feels that she doesn’t fit in – not at school and especially not with her own family. Her mother is an adolescent psychologist who does not practice what she preaches. Her father is a little less rigid, but he’s a high-powered manager.

Both of Virginia’s parents are workaholics and leave her to fend for herself most of the time. She idolizes her older brother – who is a chick magnet – and wishes she were more like her older sister, who has joined the Peace Corps (much to her mother’s chagrin) and is working in Africa.

All of Virginia’s family are dark-haired and thin. Virginia is blond and has a weight problem, due in large part to comfort eating.

Then something devastating happens that changes the entire family dynamic (I won’t tell you what it is; it’s a crucial turning point and best if you discover it for yourselves), and puts Virginia on the road to making major changes in her life.

The characters are well-delineated – especially Virginia, who gets inside your head the way that few characters do. Even the minor characters have their quirks, like Alyssa Wu who knits all the time to keep from fidgeting, and the math teacher Mr. Mooney, who forgets formulas but who remembers a plethora of old songs that he associates with names (“Carry me back to old Virginny . . . “) and sings whenever he interacts with students – much to the students’ mortification.

Although The Earth, My Butt & Other Big Round Things is technically a young adult novel it can be enjoyed at any age.  An excellent read. I recommend it highly.

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14 replies »

  1. I’ve just learned that Carolyn Mackler’s THE EARTH, MY BUTT & OTHER BIG ROUND THINGS was named as one of ALA’s Top 10 Banned Books of 2006. I can understand why. The F-bomb is dropped a few times, and there are a few teenage lust scenes (but no hardcore porn kind of stuff). I remember my teenage years, and there are no four-letter words in this book that teens don’t know and use, and there are no activities that teens don’t know about and don’t participate in (I’m not speaking of all teens, just some of them; I quote no surveys on what percentage of teens are saying or doing naughty things). Oh, yeah, some of the folks who challenged this book may have been bent out of shape by the teenage rebellion thing.

    My advice to the challengers is: if it offends you, don’t read it, but let the rest of us have a beautiful reading experience.


  2. Thanks for this review, David. If anything makes me want to read a book, it’s knowing that someone else did not want me to read it. Aside from that, your review piqued my interest and I had already decided to get a copy. Thanks again.



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