The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Funny overweight girl goes through some heavy stuff.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 20 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The author's Web site provides a discussion guide that can help teen readers -- and their parents -- discuss some of the book's plot and messages. Or use the questions on the "Families Can Talk About" section for ideas.

Positive Messages

Virginia always felt like a misfit in her own family -- but gradually she learns to see their flaws and her own value as a unique person.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Parents may not always appreciate Virginia's choices here -- like getting her eyebrow pierced without permission -- and sometimes her behavior creeps into destructive behavior, like self-mutilation. But she is always a character that teens can relate to, and they will certainly respect her growing ability to stand up for herself.


Virginia's brother date rapes a girl in college.


Make-out scenes, references to masturbation, and sex fantasies. Virginia has a secret make-out partner, but is afraid to let him touch her because she thinks she is too fat.


Plenty of swearing. Virginia calls her brother an "a--hole," for example.


Lots of products, especially foods, mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking, smoking, marijuana.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book deals with some sensitive subjects, such as self-injury, eating disorders, and controlling parents. Most importantly, Virginia discovers that the brother she has always admired is guilty of date rape. Despite the sometimes heavy material, Virginia can be a funny character who relates her coming-of-age story in first-person, along with emails and journal entries. Parents may not always appreciate Virginia's choices  -- like getting her eyebrow pierced without permission -- but she is a character that teens can relate to, and they will certainly respect her growing ability to stand up for herself.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 1-year-old Written byExtrynia Nchoziviosk March 2, 2013

Has such an important message

I think that every teenage girl should read this. Ive made all of my students read this, and the message is amazing. Virginia has convinced herself that she is... Continue reading
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byColoradoMama October 21, 2012

Highly Recommended

Once a fat girl, now a mom of an athletic but bigger tween girl, I found this book a breath of fresh air. The fat girl dating rules took me right back to high... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bychickenpotpie123 January 3, 2019

Great book for kids age 12 and above

This book gives out positive messages about low self-esteem, body disorders, being overweight. This book contains some bad language like "f****" and h... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byHaileyM11223 February 27, 2018
I have to do a project on why this book was challenged or banned some places, and I really dont understand why it was banned.

What's the story?

Overweight Virginia thinks she's a misfit in her family, with two thin, gorgeous, successful parents and two thin, gorgeous, high-achieving older siblings. Her mother pressures her to lose weight, which she tries to do. But her anxiety leads her to minor acts of self-mutilation, as she tries to live by her Fat Girl Code of Conduct, which operates on the basic assumption that she is worthless. Then her brother, Byron, whom she idolizes, is suspended from college for date rape, and Virginia begins to see both her family and herself in a different light.

Is it any good?

Readers, especially teen girls, will likely relate to Virginia, and they will certainly respect her growing ability to stand up for herself. Though this book could use a bit more scathing humor -- and a deeper exploration of some of the more serious issues it raises -- Mackler is able to impart a message of self-acceptance through her self-deprecating narrator. Readers will appreciate the emails and journal entries that add realism to Virginia's coming-of-age story.


Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the pressure Virginia's parents put on her to be thin. How do her feelings change throughout the book? Parents may want to check out Common Sense Media's tips for talking to girls about body image.

  • This book deals with some heavy themes, such as date rape and self mutilation. What do you think of the way the author handles these topics? Does it surprise you to see this material in a book for young adults, or is it realistic?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age stories

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