The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things

Just finished this book by Carolyn Mackler.  It won the Michael L. Printz Honor in the YA category.  I bought the book (used for $1) after I heard Carolyn Mackler speak at the SCBWI LA 2010 conference.  I wanted to read it because:
  1. I really enjoyed Carolyn's candid speech.
  2. The book won a YA award
  3. The book has been banned in several libraries across the country for being, too sexual.
In short the book is about an overweight teen, Virginia, who eats through her families problems.  In the end she realizes how to be true to herself.  I liked the book.  After reading it I want to address two things: teens/weight and teens/sex.

If you are an overweight teen I think this book could be inspirational.  I was not an overweight teen.  As a matter of fact, I was quite the opposite but I suffered the same abuse Virginia did; being judged about your weight.  I was 5'7" in high school, barely 100 pounds.  My metabolism was excessively high.  I could eat cheeseburgers, pizza and nachos and not gain a pound (I'd kill for that now.) But my point, I was teased for being too skinny.  I'm sure everyone is saying, "You were skinny.  What are you complaining about?"  It sucked being called "Board Breast", "Ethiopian" or being accused of having an eating disorder or tapeworm, or worse, reading a note from a guy you have a crush who wrote, and I quote, "Fucking Dana would be like fucking a skeleton with no meat."  (Jerk! Boy did I know how to pick 'em.)

Dealing with teen issues in a YA book is sticky ground but the truth is, teen issues aren't pretty so when a book dishes it like it is, I want to smack the adults who jump on the bandwagon to ban a book.  Which brings me to my next point, teens and sex.  When I started to read this book, because of the whole ban from your libraries thing, I was expecting some juicy sex scenes with vivid over the top unnecessary descriptions that glorified premarital acts in way that girls ran out to have sex.

Um.... nope.


Yes there were a couple of groping and kissing scenes but they were very matter of a fact, short and not glamourous by any means. (Disappointing actually.) So what was the big deal?  If you find out, let me know.


The truth is teens have sex or at the very least grope.  Yes, I am sure that there were wholesome teens now turned adults who never did such a thing until they were married.  But from my recollection as a teen in a normal high school in small town America, that was a rarity NOT the norm unfortunately.  


I am convienced that there is an adult disease that once you hit the age 30, your teenage years are wiped from your brain because some parents seem to have forgotten what it was like.  Parents absolutely have the right to protest a book.  Their intentions are pure; they want to protect their child from being exposed to these kinds of things.  Parent should realize though, teens will learn about sex, one way or another, whether you want them to or not.  When you ban a book, you just might as well have pointed them in that direction.  It's kind of like gossip, the more people talk about it the bigger it becomes, the less people talk about it the smaller it becomes.  I think Carolyn Mackler gave a very realistic yet tasteful approach to some sticky teen issues.  I would most definitely recommend her book to a parent of a teen any day.


Have you read the book?  Do you think it should be banned?