The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things

Common Sense Media says

Funny overweight girl goes through some heavy stuff.





What parents need to know

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

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.

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.


Parents say

Kids say

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.


Families can talk 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

Author:Carolyn Mackler
Genre:Contemporary Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Candlewick Press
Publication date:February 19, 2004
Number of pages:246
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17

This review of The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byKayKayD September 14, 2009

Fat Girls Unite

Virginia is a lot like me. We're both fat, sexually frustrated, face hardship socially, and don't get along well with our families. Big difference; Virginia is rich. I'm not. Otherwise, this book really helped me overcome my weight problem. It made me believe that even fat girls can be beautiful, fun, and loved by others. Though this hasn't neccessarily happened to me yet, I'm still hoping.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Teen, 13 years old Written bykrazypanda June 26, 2009
funny but a bit inappropriate
What other families should know
Too much sex
Teen, 14 years old Written bypiano_gurl93 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age


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