Carolyn Mackler, The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things, Bloomsbury, 1 June 2018, 288pp., $14.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781408897058
Virginia has a list of rules to get through teenage life. It’s called the Fat Girl Code of Conduct. If she sticks to the list, continues to spend school lunchtimes hiding in the disused girls’ bathrooms, she may just make it through the rest of year while her best friend is across the other side of the country.
Though Virginia’s mum is a lauded adolescent psychologist who really should know better, Virginia is constantly reminded of how different she is to the rest of her flawless family. Perhaps she was switched at birth. When her adored older brother is kicked out of university, Virginia must re-evaluate her perceptions. It’s time for her to stop hiding behind lists and discover who she is and who she wants to be.
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things blends humour with brutal realities. Fat shaming, body issues, self-harm and sexual assault are difficult topics Virginia must navigate. We see her struggle to come to terms with her brother’s actions and assess how damaging her previous self-beliefs are. Virginia’s impertinent humour makes her a likable character we want to see succeed. Her loneliness and low self-esteem are elements many teens can relate to.
Originally published in 2003, Carolyn Mackler’s girl-power classic has been revamped for a modern, digital-savvy audience. While the technology may have changed, the themes dealt with in the book are sadly still relevant and important today.
Reviewed by Fiona Miller-Stevens