My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters

 
(i)

 

A teen's big nose leads to a big lesson in self-acceptance.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Jory and her friends vandalize a boy's car with ketchup, mustard, and whipped cream. Jory's mom is always on extreme diets, trying to lose weight quickly. Jory saves all her money for plastic surgery and creates a "Nice Nose Notebook" with pictures of potential noses (she later rips it up). One of Jory's crushes is gay but feels he must hide it to avoid his father's anger. Jory lies to her boss on several occasions. Hannah drinks and gets in a hot tub in her underwear, noting "I'm sick of always being the good girl. What good has it done me?" Jory flips off her mom.

Violence

A drunk college student Jory dubs "Ass Grabber" grabs her butt and tries to grab her breasts, then pushes her against a wall. She screams and her friend comes to save her. Ass Grabber calls her, "You pathetic little tease."

Sex

Jory often calculates her odds of dying a virgin; she wonders, "Can the desire to lose your virginity be a passion, in the creative sense of the word?" The girls obsess over boys. A boy tells Jory not to stare at his ass, then tells her it's his turn to check out hers. A college student takes Jory and her friend up to his room, which he tells them is called the "orgy room" because he has mattresses all over the floor. Jory often dresses in a "sexy mini." Jory's friend gets drunk at lunch and goes home with an older co-worker, which Jory says "Sounds like a recipe for date rape." Jory kisses a boy she knows at a party; he puts his hands under her bra and pushes her hand onto his penis. (She starts laughing and he gets angry, telling her she "acted like she wanted it.") Jory kisses her boyfriend; when things start to heat up, he tells her he has decided to stay a virgin in high school. Jory and her friends have a picture taken wearing a teddy and fishnet stockings.

Language

"Pissed," "ass."

Consumerism

There are several brand names mentioned of cars, bands, food, and household items.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Jory and her friends attend high school and college parties (uninvited) where there is drinking and drug use (a bong, passing a joint). Some teens drink excessively, to the point of vomiting. One boy drives after using a bong, despite seeming "pretty wasted." The main character drinks hard alcohol (creme de menthe and hard lemonade). Waitresses serve 17-year-olds chocolate martinis because 20-something law clerks vouch for them. At a fraternity party, Jory and her friend decide they "need something to drink to make us look older." Some guys chug beer from a tube. The girls drink hard lemonade. Jory's crush drinks from a pitcher of margaritas and offers her some, which she takes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the book features a significant amount of underage drinking by the main character, her friends, and other students. Although the main character eventually accepts her appearance and decides she "confused sex with self-worth," she spends most of the book obsessed with her large nose and calculating her chances of dying a virgin.

What's the story?

Seventeen-year-old Jory and her two best friends, Hannah and Megan, decide to spend their last summer of high school seeking out their passions. In a series of disasters, Jory tries yoga, watches old films, searches for a boyfriend, and takes a job as a delivery-van driver. Her secret goal, though, is earning enough money to pay a plastic surgeon for a new nose that will make her beautiful. Then she'll fit in with her family, boys will love her, and her life will truly begin. But is her nose really the problem?

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

In MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS, Jory is subject to every teen insecurity: She hides her big nose with tons of makeup; she worries she's a bad kisser; she tries to be cool but is mostly a klutz. Teens may relate to her various misadventures, including a gaseous yoga session and a disastrous wedding job.

Though Salter tries to pass Jory off as edgy, in the last few chapters Jory comes around to accepting herself and realizing the errors of her ways. The epiphanies come off a bit forced, in a staged speech to her shallow, one-dimensional mother ("I'm never going to be good enough for you!") and the symbolic ripping of magazine images ("How many of them suffer from eating disorders, or addictions, or just plain old insecurity?"). Still, teens will find much to identify with here, and could find worse books to read.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about body image and how Jory finds ways to accept her appearance. How does her mom's attitude influence Jory's perception of herself? Do you agree with Jory's critique of fashion magazine models? Can "anyone can fake happiness in a photograph"?

Book details

Author:Sydney Salter
Genre:Contemporary Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Graphia
Publication date:April 6, 2009
Number of pages:345
Publisher's recommended age(s):13 - 17
Read aloud:13
Read alone:13

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Quality

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Teen, 14 years old Written byearthgurl December 17, 2010
 

I enjoyed this

The title isnt very appealing, but it has a really good story. The main character, Jory, struggles with many insecurities and her nose. Good message.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byAlinaW. March 19, 2010
 

Great easy read for teens!

Great little book about looks and images, and eventually accepting yourself for who you are. A little on the fluffy side, but a great easy-read for the beach, or a lazy day. Found some stuff to relate to here, and I think I'd reccomend it to others as a fluffy chick lit novel!
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written byFutureMrs.JohnnyDepp August 5, 2010
 

Good book, a very easy book. very enjoyable!

Great book, I read this book in less than a day, it was very enjoyable. All about a girl and her struggle with her 'big nose' and how her nose seems to make everything in her life bad. Another book like this is called FIX, if you like this book - read FIX next. OR if you've read FIX, you should also like My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters.
What other families should know
Great role models

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