The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2/14/2012
  • Publisher: Candlewick
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An overweight teen is sure that she's the weakest link in her high-powered family - until her handsome, athletic, star-student brother has a shocking fall from grace. Fifteen-year-old Virginia Shreves has a larger-than-average body and a plus-size inferiority complex. She lives on the Web, snarfs junk food, and follows the "Fat Girl Code of Conduct." Her stuttering best friend has just moved to Walla Walla (of all places). Her new companion, Froggy Welsh the Fourth (real name), has just succeeded in getting his hand up her shirt, and she lives in fear that he'll look underneath. Then there are the other Shreves: Mom, the successful psychologist and exercise fiend; Dad, a top executive who ogles thin women on TV; and older siblings Anais and rugby god Byron, both of them slim and brilliant. Delete Virginia, and the Shreves would be a picture-perfect family. Or so she's convinced. And then a shocking phone call changes everything. With irreverent humor, insight, and surprising gravity, Carolyn Mackler creates an endearingly blunt heroine whose story will speak to every teen who struggles with family expectations - and serve as a welcome reminder that the most impressive achievement is to be true to yourself. From the Hardcover edition.



Sunday morning. My parents return from Connecticut early because Dad has to leave for a business trip to Chicago this afternoon. I’m sitting on the couch, watching TV and chewing my fat-free nails. They say hi to me and then Mom goes into the kitchen to make a smoothie.

A moment later she appears in the living room again.

"Virginia, I’m so proud of you," she says.

I mute the volume. It’s not every day I hear "Virginia" and "proud" in the same sentence.


"I just saw those pictures you stuck on the fridge."

Mom, meet the Food Police.

Mom continues. "You want to hear something funny?"

I nod.

"Back when I was . . ." - Mom pauses - ". . . a teenager, I put images of models on my family’s fridge, to keep me from eating too much."


Mom nods. "Like mother, like daughter."

As she heads back into the kitchen, I pump the volume on the TV again.

Since when did Mom become Ms. Observant Parent? A few weeks ago, I got an A+ on a language arts paper about ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE by Gabriel García Márquez. I even managed to include two mentions of "ostracism" and three of "oppression," so my teacher gobbled it up. I stuck it to the fridge with a few magnets, hoping Mom - a big Márquez fan - would say something, but she never seemed to notice.

So how is it that she’s in the apartment seven minutes and already spots the Food Police?

Oh well. I should probably look on the bright side of things.

Mom has never said like mother, like daughter to me before.

And that in itself is worth one hundred years of hunger.

THE EARTH, MY BUTT, AND OTHER BIG ROUND THINGS by Carolyn Mackler. Copyright (c) 2003 by Carolyn Mackler. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.

From the Hardcover edition.

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