Reviews for Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things


Booklist Reviews 2003 September #1
Gr. 7-10. Fifteen-year-old Viriginia Shreves is the blond, round, average daughter in a family of dark-haired, thin superstars. Her best friend has moved away, and she's on the fringes at her private Manhattan school. She wants a boyfriend, but she settles for Froggy Welsh, who comes over on Mondays to grope her. The story follows Virginia as she tries to lose weight, struggles with her "imperfections," and deals with the knowledge that her idealized older brother has committed date rape. There's a lot going on here, and some important elements, such as Virginia's flirtation with self-mutilation, are passed over too quickly. But Mackler writes with such insight and humor (sometimes using strong language to make her point) that many readers will immediately identify with Virginia's longings as well as her fear and loathing. Her gradually evolving ability to stand up to her family is hard won and not always believable, but it provides a hopeful ending for those trying stand on their own two feet. ((Reviewed September 1, 2003)) Copyright 2003 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2004 Spring
When Virginia's brother, whom she worships, is found guilty of date rape, she finally begins to acknowledge her picture-perfect family's dysfunctions. An insecure girl desperate for the approval of her weight- and appearance-obsessed family, Virginia believably transforms into a confident young woman. Mackler does a fine job introducing girls to a very cool chick with a little meat on her bones. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2003 #5
"You can tell that Ani is angry, but at the same time she's also funny and strong and sassy." Though she's talking about punk folksinger Ani DiFranco, fifteen-year-old Virginia could easily be describing herself. Unfortunately, Virginia buries her anger (toward her picture-perfect but dysfunctional family) and is unable to see herself as anything but a fat girl who's kind of smart. When her brother Byron, whom she worships, is found guilty of date rape, Virginia finally begins to acknowledge what her older sister Anais has tried to tell her: that Byron and their parents are far from perfect. Virginia's transition from an insecure girl desperate for her family's approval to a confident young woman might be a little messagey, but it's believable, and she doesn't do it on her own. Support comes from her best friend, from a teacher with eating-disorder experience, from a doctor who stresses health not weight and recommends channeling anger through kick-boxing, and even from the college student her brother assaulted. Readers will cheer Virginia on when she tells her father not to comment on her weight loss ("my body [is] just not yours to discuss"); tells her brother he's "an asshole for date-raping someone"; ignores clothing advice from her appearance-obsessed mother (who recommends "strategic layers and camouflaging colors") and buys a sexy purple dress instead; and realizes that the guy she's been making out with behind closed doors actually wants to kiss her in public. Mackler does a fine job introducing girls to a very cool chick with a little meat on her bones. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 2003 June #2
"Froggy Welsh the Fourth is trying to get up my shirt," begins this eminently accessible journey from self-hatred to confidence. Virginia is 15 and likes fooling around with Froggy, but she's mortified by her fatness, a shame fueled continually by her emotionally distant and pressuring family. Has she been switched at birth? Why isn't she perfect like her adored, overachieving older brother? But her brother isn't perfect after all, and he commits a horrifying act that rocks her world-and prompts her to begin questioning her family's values. Readers will be rooting for Virginia all the way as she moves from isolated TV-watcher to Website-creator with purple hair and an eyebrow ring. Sexuality, refreshingly, is treated as a good thing. Virginia's emotions progress from despondence to anger, joy, and strong independence, all portrayed with clarity. An easy read with substance and spirit. (Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2003 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2003 July #3
"Chubby" New York City teenager Virginia Shreves is having a hard time: not only is her best friend, Shannon, spending the school year out west, but Virginia's being pressured about her weight by her family-especially her formerly fat mother, a prominent adolescent psychologist. Lonely and insecure, Virginia has even started to hurt herself. When the brother she worships is suspended from college for date rape, the news shocks Virginia into realizing that her "stellar" family isn't as perfect as her mother says it is, and that she doesn't have to conform to her mother's expectations. Mackler (Love and Other Four-Letter Words) occasionally uses a heavy hand when it comes to making her points ("Recently, I've been finding it harder to pretend that everything is A-OK"), and some of the plot elements, such as the overweight teacher who looks out for Virginia, or Virginia's discovery that a popular girl has an eating disorder, seem scripted. The date rape story line, on the other hand, is gutsy; her brother wasn't just accused of date rape, he actually committed the crime. Ultimately, readers will find it easy to relate to Virginia; she loves junk food, gets nervous about finding someone to sit with in the cafeteria and can't believe that Froggy, the boy she has secretly made out with after school, could be interested in her, not just using her. The e-mails she exchanges with Shannon, and the lists she makes (e.g., "The Fat Girl Code of Conduct") add both realism and insight to her character. The heroine's transformation into someone who finds her own style and speaks her own mind is believable-and worthy of applause. Ages 14-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2003 September
Gr 7-10-Sophomore Virginia Shreves lives in Manhattan and attends a prestigious private school. She lives by her Fat Girl Code of Conduct. She has a budding romance with Froggy the Fourth, but she doesn't want his wandering hands to feel her fat. Her baggy clothing helps her to "hide." Her mother, Dr. Phyllis Shreves, is an adolescent psychologist obsessed with her imperfect daughter's weight, and her father is rarely around. Her older sister joined the Peace Corps to escape mom, and brother Byron is big man on the Columbia campus-until he's suspended for date rape. Finally, Virginia stands up to her mother and takes charge of her life. Strong points in the novel are the issue of date rape and its consequences and, however glossed over, eating disorders. Parental pressure is overdone. Mom and dad are stereotypical of adults so involved in themselves that they cannot see their child for who she is. Some passages are very well done, but the book has an uneven quality in prose style and character development. Told through first-person narrative, journal entries, and e-mail, Virginia's story will interest readers who are looking for one more book with teen angst, a bit of romance, and a kid who is a bit like them or their friends.-Gail Richmond, San Diego Unified Schools, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2003 October
Virginia Shreves has some serious issues with which to deal. Her body and her inferiority complex are both larger than average. Her best friend just moved away from home in New York City to Walla Walla, Washington, and just might forget Virginia completely. Froggy, her potential boyfriend, is a great kisser, but he never speaks to her outside their Monday afternoon trysts. Worst of all, she is convinced that she was switched at birth because her family is a collection of thin, bright overachievers. Her adolescent psychologist mother is a diet and exercise fanatic, and her jet-setting father openly prefers skinny women. Byron and Anais, Virginia's older brother and sister, are slim, brilliant, and successful-hard acts to follow. Subtract the oddball Virginia from the equation and this fabulous foursome equals a perfect family. At least they seem perfect until an unspeakable act and a telephone call change everything, and Virginia learns that people are not always what they seem. Mackler allows Virginia to narrate the story of her family's destruction and struggle for redemption in a voice that is dead-on, whether sassy and self-assured or agonized and self-destructive. Hilarious, insecure, hopeful, clueless-Virginia is a treasure. All readers will wish they could tell her that themselves. From the eye-catching silver foil cover, with title graphics looking like lipstick, to the upbeat ending, this novel is a required purchase for public library young adult collections. The occasional use of strong language and a few mild sexual allusions are appropriate and well done.-Jamie S. Hansen. 5Q 4P S Copyright 2003 Voya Reviews

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