A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
- 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.
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?
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