As you might be able to tell, I'm on a Carolyn Mackler kick, and I just read her Printz-Award winning novel, The Earth, My Butt and Other Big, Round Things. Even though the title is pretty funny, the book is actually pretty serious. But it was also funny. Let me explain...
The book is about a girl, Virginia, who lives in New York City. Sounds awesome, right? Well, Virginia is having some issues. First, she feels like she's a little bit over-weight, and it doesn't help that other kids at school and even her parents say she is, too. She also is interested in a boy named Froggy the Fourth, but she doesn't think he'd ever go out with her because of her weight. Then, to top it all off, her brother does something terrible and shocking, something Virginia, who hero-worships him, never thought he would do. This event really shakes up her family, and it forces Virginia to rethink her relationship with her brother, her parents, and herself.
I really liked this book. Really, really liked it. First of all, the narrator, Virginia, was so likeable and funny, and she felt like a real teenager to me. I found myself nodding along with so many things she said, and remembering that I thought the same thing way back in high school. I also really liked seeing her transformation over the course of the book, and I liked how she began to question everything that she had previously just accepted as fact, like things that her parents and brother did.
I'm also a sucker for a good family drama, and this novel had plenty of that, although it never veered into melodramatic territory. As I said before, Virginia found herself questioning a lot of what her parents did, like, for example, her mother's tendency to ignore problems in the family and pretend that it was perfect. Virginia's family also put a lot of emphasis on how she looked and made some pretty mean comments about her body, something I found to be, sadly, pretty true to life. I think realizing that your parents and your family isn't perfect, and that they don't always do the right thing, is a big part of growing up, and this novel did a great job of showing that.
I think Publisher's weekly said it best when they wrote, in their review, that "The heroine's transformation into someone who finds her own style and speaks her own mind is believable -- and worthy of applause." Don't let the silly title fool you, guys. This novel has some serious, important stuff to say. There's a reason it won the Printz, after all.