Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Printz Contender Like Good, Old-Fasioned Comfort Food: Warm and Satisfying

(Image from Barnes & Noble)


Virginia's read about stuff like this. It happens sometimes - a nurse accidentally hands the wrong newborn to the wrong couple. Obviously, this is what happened to her. How else could a short, plump blonde like her have ended up in a family full of tall, thin brunettes? Clearly, she was switched at birth.

Welcome to the world of Virginia Shreves, the 15-year-old narrator of The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler. In a family of beautiful overachievers who are dedicated to looking like beautiful overachievers, Virginia's a bit of a misfit. She's not super skinny like her older sister; she's not popular like her older brother; she's not a golf-toting club member like her father and she's certainly nothing like her gym-rat-child-psychologist mother. She's smart enough, sure, but she's also boyfriendless and lonely now that her only friend's been whisked off to Oregon by her vagabond parents. With no social life to speak of, she's been spending her time surfing the Web and downing Doritos, neither of which help with her biggest problem - her weight. Viriginia's not grossly obese, but she's chubby enough to get picked last for any kind of team in P.E. She's "heavy" enough that her calorie-conscious mother has to remind her about it every single day. Virginia's getting the message loud and clear: she is the fleshy blight on what is otherwise a perfect family.

Then, one night, the phone rings. And changes everything. The caller delivers horrifying, unimaginable news. While the rest of the Shreves are busy hiding the unsightly accusation behind their blemishless facades, Virginia's imploding. Facing the ugly truth about her flawless family means confronting the cold, hard facts about herself. As terrifying as the process is, it might just be the one thing that can free Virginia to be the only person she really needs to be - herself.

Virginia Shreves is one of those characters that girls recognize instantly. With all of her doubts, her self-loathing, and the tremendous pressure she puts on herself to look a certain way, she's an EveryGirl who will jiggle her way into the hearts of all girls, whether they're a size 2 or 20. She's the perfect antiheroine - funny, but self-deprecating; sweet, but sarcastic; sympathetic, but not pathetic; smart, but often clueless. Her story resounds not because it's terribly unique, but because her voice makes it so. While The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things didn't completely blow me away like other Printz Award contenders, it's still an appealing read. In fact, it's a lot like good, old-fashioned comfort food (something Virginia would no doubt appreciate): warm and satisfying.

(Readalikes: Reminded me of The Girl With the Mermaid Hair by Delia Ephron)

Grade: B

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language, sexual innuendo/making out/sexual references

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

4 comments:

  1. Nice. I've seen this one around the library and just never picked it up. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Susan. Think I will put it on hold. :-)

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  2. This looks like a book I'd really enjoy. I definitely need some comfort food right now. I'll look for it at the library. Thanks!

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  3. I LOVE the title and your ratings :)

    You've made a follower out of me :)

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