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31 Days of Teens’ Top Ten:An anthem for today’s teenage girl!

Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year! Nominators are members of teen book groups in fifteen school and public libraries around the country. Nominations are posted on Support Teen Literature Day during National Library Week, and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles each year. Each day during the month of May, The Hub will feature a post about Teens’ Top Ten. Be sure to check in daily as we visit past winners and current nominees!

Virginia Shreves is the star of  Carolyn Mackler’s The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things, from the 2004 Teens’ Top Ten List.  She is an outcast in her own family.  For starters she’s overweight while her parents and brother and sister are thin, health nuts.  Her mother is an adolescent psychologist who obsesses with Virginia’s eating and exercise habits.  Virginia lives by the “Fat Girl Code of Conduct”, which basically are a set of rules for her interactions with boys.  For example:

3. Go further than skinny girls.

4. If you can’t sell him on your body, you’d better overcompensate with sexual perks.

The kiss of death comes when her best friend moves across the country.  To a teenager losing the one person you can safely hang out with is devastating.  Another blow happens when her seemingly perfect brother is accused of date rape at Columbia University.  Virginia turns a corner when she goes to visit her best friend.  On a whim, she gets an eyebrow piercing.  When she gets positive feedback about it from her friend’s family, she starts to take more chances.  After hiding in bagging clothes, Virginia starts buying outfits that flatter her curves.  My favorite moment is when Virginia’s mom remarks that blonds don’t look good in purple.  Virginia dyes her hair purple to match the dress!  She then creates a webzine with her classmates and gains a new circle of friends.

I love the transformation of Virginia.  She stands up to her parents and discovers who she is at the same time.  I love that Carolyn Mackler did not make Virginia lose a bunch of weight to gain self esteem.  She does start exercising in a kick boxing class.  She finally says to her dad that her weight is not up for discussion, not now or ever!    Virginia speaks to all kinds of teenage girls, whether it is about weight or trying to fit in with a perfect family, or losing a friend who has moved away.

Kris Hickey is currently reading Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian by John Elder Robinson

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