To mark Banned Books Week, I read Carolyn Mackler's The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things. Slightly overweight teenager Virginia Shreves is the heroine. She's the daughter of ambitious, intelligent, emotionally checked-out parents and the sister of a guy expelled from NYU for date-rape.
The book has Virginia is getting felt up by a boy named Froggy on the very first page. Froggy is a guy she makes out with for the convenience factor - he takes the bus to her side of town every Monday after school for a trombone lesson. They kiss for 45 minutes, he leaves for his lesson, and then they ignore each other the rest of the week in school.
Reading the book as an adult, it's almost painful how little Virginia asks of Froggy (or from her parents). These are the breadcrumbs of love - but they are an important part of the story. The most important thread in this book - to me - is the struggle for Virginia to protect her emotional honesty, and this is how she gets there.
I appreciated watching Virginia take risks to find
love and care from the people around her. I could identify with and remember what it was like
to have parents who either wanted to be someone else or wanted you to
be someone else.Not washing over the painful
things as if they never happened.Only two people in this book - Virginia and her sister (who gives up and joins the Peace Corps to get away from the family) - are really talking. The sister has a conversation with Virginia one day about sex. She asks,
"I know Mom and Dad have told you about sex. But what do you know about boys?"
I've been thinking about how I might answer that question ever since. Leave me a comment and let me know what you know about boys. And I mean the things you know NOW that you're grown up and you've got all figured out. What you'd tell a teenager girl, even though you know it probably won't make a bit of difference.
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