by Carolyn Mackler
published November 2005 by Demco Media
isbn 0606343938 (isbn13: 9780606343930)
rating: 3 of 5 stars
It's hard to reconcile the fact that 2008's Hunger Games and 2004's The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things are both recipients of the Printz award for young adult literature. The first is a a dystopian adventure novel, while Earth is more of a memoir of teen angst.
Virginia Shreves is the blonde youngest sister in a family of over-achieving athletic brunettes. The Shreves live in New York City, where Virigina attends the same exclusive prep school her older sister Anais and older brother Byron-Can-Do-No-Wrong graduated. Ginny's an email-text-messaging-celebrity-junkie, a good student, who struggles with her weight - specifically, how people perceive her because she's heavy. Her make-out buddy doesn't seem to mind, although he doesn't acknowledge the relationship at school. And Virginia's best friend Shannon has moved away. Her adolescent-psychologist mother has just taken her to a new doctor, while her dad ogles the thin actresses on TV.
There's a lot of set-up before the main plot device. Ginny goes on a starvation diet, and starts gaining her parents' approval. Then, a phone call from the Dean of Columbia, Byron's current school, spurs the changes which form the main catalyst in Virginia's perception of herself.
Byron has been accused of date rape. He's forced to move back home, and Virginia is forced to examine all of her relationships and preconceived ideas - about her perfect mother, the snobs at school, the girl her brother raped, and herself.
This is an excellent book to get younger teen girls who aren't avid readers into reading, although the subject matter (rape) is a little advanced. Mackler has a knack for getting inside Virginia's head, into her angst - real angst, not the overplayed melodramatic kind on "Gossip Girl." She also has a dry, but fun, sense of humor that peeks through even the serious offense that the novel addresses.
While the trials Virginia experiences at school were a little too painful for me to read and relive, they certainly will speak to anyone who hid out in the bathroom during lunch period to avoid having the ostracism of sitting alone.