Fifteen-year-old Virginia Shreves has a larger-than-average body and a plus-size inferiority complex, especially when she compares herself to her slim, brilliant, picture-perfect family. But that’s before a shocking phone call – and a horrifying allegation – about her rugby-star brother changes everything. With irreverent humor and surprising gravity, Carolyn Mackler creates an endearingly blunt heroine who speaks to every teen who struggles with family expectations, and proves that the most impressive achievement is to be true to yourself.
Interview with Carolyn Mackler
First of all, can you tell us three things you love about this book?
CM: I love Virginia’s fresh and funny voice. I love that The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things is an honest account of a curvy chick who isn’t relegated to sidekick friend. I love Virginia’s awkward fumblings with her hookup buddy Froggy.
If you can choose, who is your favourite character in this book and why?
CM: Definitely Virginia. Her voice poured out of me, fully formed. She has the self-observational powers that I wish I had at fifteen.
How important do you think it is that teenagers read your book?
CM: For teenagers who need a book like this, who need to see themselves reflected in a novel, who need to have hope that they’ll make it through the darker days – very important.
What themes do you feel run throughout this book?
CM: Standing up for yourself. Feeling confident in your skin. Making the choice to defy your family in the name of what’s right.
What is your favourite thing about being a writer today?
CM: I love being able to spend my days telling stories. In my pajamas. Drinking coffee. With my dog at my side.
Can you recommend us some other YA authors?
CM: Jandy Nelson is one of my favorites. So is Nicola Yoon. Oh, and Gabrielle Zevin. E. Lockhart. David Levithan.
What book(s) did you wish you had while you were growing up?
CM: I read obsessively when I was growing up so I certainly wasn’t hard up for good books. But I know I would have loved Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. I love deep, juicy dramas that span many years.
Now for some flash questions!
Coffee, Tea or Hot Chocolate?
Dark, White or Milk Chocolate?
CM: Dark chocolate. Even better with coffee!
Water or Wine?
CM: Water. Wine gives me a headache.
Typing or Hand-Writing?
CM: Typing for my books. Handwriting for my to-do lists.
E-mails or Letters?
CM: It used to be letters and I still check my mailbox every afternoon imagining I’ll get a windfall of letters but these days it’s all email and text.
Growing Up Today or Growing Up When You Did?
CM: I loved growing up when I did, the freedom of being a teenager without being constantly connected to parents via cell phones. But if you asked my kids, they have no idea how anything got done without the internet.
And lastly, what are your future writing plans? If you have any!
CM: I’m gearing up to promote The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I, which is my brand-new sequel to The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things. I’m also starting a YA novel that I’m very excited about. Bring on the pajamas and coffee!
I throughly enjoyed this story. It tackled body issues head on and in a greatly positive way. It was a very quick read but still managed to cover a lot of ground.
Virginia is a big girl who from the outlook seems larger than life and happy. Dig deeper and Virginia has a whole range of issues. I really enjoyed watching Virginia try to navigate through her minefield of a life. With her perfect mother who couldn’t possibly utter the word fat. A best-friend that is miles away. A brother that is not all he seems. A boy who she thinks would never be seen dead with her in public.
I’ll be honest…I didn’t really enjoy the brother plot twist. It just felt a bit thrown in there to be honest.
Virginia just feels inadequate in every aspect of her life…until she starts to find herself and do what she wants with her life. She gets fierce and I liked that spark.
This is a good read with tough topics, humour, complex relationships and a host of wonderful characters. Also a dysfunctional family that tries not to be dysfunctional and puts poor Virginia through hell. I hear there is a sequel that I will most definitely be picking up!
*Special thanks to Bloomsbury for the review copy*