RELEASED: April 18, 2018
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
GENRE: YA Contemporary
GOODREADS RATING: 3.77
TRIGGERS: Mention of rape, fat-phobia, eating disorder, self harm
REPS: Fat MC
Fifteen-year-old Virginia Shreves has a larger-than-average body and a plus-size inferiority complex. She lives on the Web, snarfs junk food, and follows the Fat Girl Code of Conduct.” Her stuttering best friend has just moved to Walla Walla (of all places). Her new companion, Froggy Welsh the Fourth (real name), has just succeeded in getting his hand up her shirt, and she lives in fear that he’ll look underneath. Then there are the other Shreves; Mom, the successful psychologist and exercise fiend; Dad, a top executive who ogles thin women on TV; and older siblings Ana’s and rugby god Byron, both of them slim and brilliant. Delete Virginia, and the Shreves would be a picture-perfect family. Or so she’s convinced. And then a shocking phone call changes everything.
I’ve been sitting on this review for a long, long time now. I read The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things back in December and just.. couldn’t find a good way to write this review in a way I was comfortable with? I’m hoping I did a good job on this because skies, this is a hard one..
The author rewrote this novel to fit the current world – adding technology and whatnot to make this story more accessible for young adults of today. I loved that, to be honest, because I can imagine teenagers not picking up this book the moment they notice it’s set “years and years ago before YouTube even existed”. That being said, the writing itself is definitely fluent as well. It’s a quick read, but not a light one in the slightest.
A whole array of heavy topics are touched upon, most of them anything but easy to swallow. There’s mention of a side character having committed date rape, there’s self harm, there’s fat-phobia in abundance, with bullying and eating disorders to top if all off. Definitely no easy subjects but such important ones for teenagers to read about. Especially since a whole lot of us find/found ourselves struggling with our body image at some point in our lives.
That being said, I could see a whole lot of my past self in Virginia, our main character. The way she struggles with herself, with how others might or might not view her, with the clothing choices she has to make, the way she avoids mirrors… So many small and big things that spoke to me and.. actually got me emotional because some memories are better left buried, but I couldn’t help thinking about them since Virginia went through some of the exact same things. This book touched me in a way I expected it to, but alas..
It also touched me in a way I didn’t want it to and actually made me quite angry and mad and frustrated all at the same time. Which isn’t that weird, since I’m pregnant? But it felt like more than just hormones – which is what makes it even worse.
Virginia’s parents? Absolutely horrible. I honestly wish nobody has parents like that – and if you do, please.. talk to me.. They focus on her weight more than on her actual person. Everything revolves around Virginia having to lose weight, to the point of not taking her out for fancy dinners and parties because.. obviously she wouldn’t add to the “perfect image of a perfect family” they want to show the world. I was horrified. I know people might say this is for the “sake of the story”, but seriously.. I can see teenagers feeling behavior like that is normal while it is anything but. It isn’t normal for parents to be like that – at all.
The focus on weight and how fat she looks instead of focusing on her health? Like.. Okay, we know those things are connected, but it comes across way differently if you’re concerned about your kid’s health instead of weight. There’s a difference right there and I loved the doctor in this book for pointing that out. Do not focus on weight, focus on body image. It’s something that’ll stick with me, I’m sure.
As for Virginia herself.. She sometimes gave me an icky feeling as well. I could connect with her on multiple levels, like I said earlier, but there are also instances where she does, says and thinks things that simply should’ve been challenged. I’m not going to give any examples since those might be spoiler-y, but.. I feel like the author should’ve tried to challenge certain thoughts and actions more. This book needs those positive vibes desperately.
Last and worst – for me personally since I’m a survivor – is the date rape I mentioned earlier. Said rapist pretty much gets away with what they’ve done and I still cannot get over that. They even got rewarded in some ways – multiple ways. Simply thinking about it, weeks after finishing this book, still angers me in close to no time at all. I just.. Ugh..
Can you see why I had such a hard time writing this review? It’s not like there aren’t any positive things, but the negatives are.. huge and jump out at me the moment I think about this book. This could be so much more than what it is but unfortunately it’s not.
Have you ever read a book where there were a lot of positives that were negatives as well? How did you handle it?
Would you read this book? Or maybe you’ve read it already? Share your thoughts!