Banned Book Club is a meme I host where we read one historically challenged book a month. We support free speech and fight censorship every chance we get. Join our Goodreads group and DM me on Twitter to join our group chat.
Book of the month: The Earth, My Butt, And Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
Banned for: Profane language, sexual content, anti-family
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.
I first read this book as a teenager and fell absolutely in love with it. I went on to re-read it several times and when I started the Banned Book Club, I HAD to make our members read this book! It’s number 34 on ALA’s Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books (2000-2009). The group loved the idea of the book and even went on to nickname it the “butt book”!
It’s always nerve wracking to re-read a book you loved as a child, because you don’t know what you’ll do if adult-you actually hates the book. It’s been a good 7 years since I last read the butt book and I was a little worried when I started reading it again after all these years. I needn’t have worried at all, because I ended up liking it a lot!
There are a few cliches, but I forgive them because of when this book was first written (2005). This book was so ahead of its time! It’s a coming of age story of 15-year-old Virginia, a plus-sized teenager with an inferiority complex.
15-year-old me obviously found this book extremely relatable, being a plus-sized teenager in a thin family. I received a lot of unsolicited comments from relatives as a child. The line “think how much prettier you’d look if only you lost weight” was the soundtrack to my childhood.
In Virginia’s case, she has a lot more issues to contend with. Her mom’s an adolescent psychologist who listens to every child’s problems except her own, her father constantly compliments skinny girls, and her brother (whom she idolizes) gets kicked out of Columbia for a reason I cannot mention for fear of spoiling the book.
This is Virginia’s story of learning to accept who she is and also making positive changes in her life. Sure, things become all sunshine and rainbows at the end of the novel, but it’s YA. Of course it has a happy ending. This book helped me a lot as a child and as an adult, I really appreciate Carolyn Mackler for writing it.
“I think people can choose to be victims or they can choose to be empowered and to carry on. That’s what I want. To be empowered.”
Rating: 4 out of 5
Psst… It was 5 out of 5 as a teenager. xD