My name is Sam Marollo, I am currently an elementary teaching assistant at a school in Penfield and my goal is to work as a 3rd grade teacher promoting the mystery and magic of reading to my students. This is the first year I have ever heard of the Teen Book Festival. However, from what I have learned, I can’t wait to go this year and be a part of all the fun. As I am sure you already know, TBF fans, getting to meet some of the brilliant minds who craft these stories is something you don’t get the opportunity to do very often.
TBF Readers, I have to tell you that I have come to believe that the best books are those that include characters or situations that are unfamiliar, and sometimes uncomfortable. With a helpful recommendation from my professor, I choose the book The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler. To be completely honest, when I first read the title “my butt” I actually giggled quite a bit. How many books have I ever read that has “my butt” in the title? None, to be exact. Once I started reading the book though, I learned that not everything is a joking matter.
The main character, Virginia is an average teenager, with average problems, below average social status, and above average expectations from her family. She excels in school, but friends and boys seem to be more complex than string theory. She can’t seem to control her eating habits (but let’s be honest, with a sundae in front of you and some brownies in the fridge, the conflict of self-control is similar to finding $100 on the ground and walking away) which leads her to all sorts of struggles. As if Virginia’s struggle with her own body image wasn’t enough of a problem, another catastrophe happens. This time though, the issue is with her formerly perfect older brother.
Now, at this point some of you readers might be thinking, “oh this is a book for girls.” I want to make it clear that I think this is a book that young men and women should read and discuss together. This is a book about all kinds of struggles. Struggles that I will estimate 10 out of 10 young adults are fighting every day of the week: the struggle with relationships, with family, with breaking through the social barriers in school. In addition, there is the most significant struggle, understanding that a person has a right to say “no.” Any reader can gain insight into how people can feel so vulnerable and helpless in relationships, especially if there is not communication.
Now readers don’t get me wrong. While Virginia’s story can be depressing and somewhat difficult to read, it has so many parts where I felt overwhelmingly happy or I just laughed out loud. The very first passage, Virginia explains that a boy has just officially touched her chest! What better why is there to reel you in right away? By the end of the story, Virginia will have you wanting to go do something you’ve never done before! Something spontaneous and wonderful that will make you happy to be you.
It is a quick read that will keep your attention, so check the Monroe County library catalog where it’s available, hopefully a bunch of people are checking it out, so you may have to check a few libraries!