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 Anais 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.
Photo – Yoshiyuki Itoh Rating – 3/5
I like the simplicity and the bold contrast between the jeans and hot pink background. I love the way the title looks like it’s stitched onto the pocket of the jeans. I like how uncluttered the cover is – no blurbs, no taglines. It’s memorable for sure, but it’s still a butt – which I think is a strange thing to represent a story. Plus, the butt in question isn’t all that curvy for a story about a curvy girl.
This is a book I’ve known about for ages. You ever have those books that you’ve heard about for some reason or other that you just never got around to reading? This is one of those books for me, and I think it’s generally considered to be a new YA classic (but maybe I’m making that up? I don’t know.). Anyhow, it was good but not great. I was expecting it to be more groundbreaking and deep.
- real talk – I love that this book goes to places other don’t – real life. Virginia thinks about sex and masturbation, she makes out with Froggy even thought they aren’t in an actual committed relationship, and she has to deal with her brother committing date rape. In addition to all the sexual content, Virginia deals with her feelings of not belonging because of her physical form. She’s the age where you grow into yourself, but it’s difficult for Virginia when she feels like people don’t accept her appearance. She struggles with the balance between dieting and starvation, the balance between eating healthy and denying her body what it needs.
- Virginia – Virginia’s attitude about her body evolves in this book. She knows that she hates the comments people (any people) make about her, but by the end of the book, she’s telling them to shove it. My favorite Virginia quote: “I’d rather you don’t talk about my body. It’s just not yours to discuss.” More than that, Virginia’s just trying to do what all teens are doing – figure out who she is and what life’s about. For someone who’s constantly hearing comments about her body, this starts with changing her looks, but Virginia’s thinking changes eventually changes as well.
- Shannon – I really appreciated how Virginia handled her best friend Shannon moving across the country. Sometimes it’s really really hard to be friends with someone when you don’t see them constantly, and Virginia gets worried when she doesn’t get immediate email responses from Shannon. She gets jealous when she hears about Shannon’s new friends and fears being replaced. There’s always that person that you feel like no one else could possibly understand as well as you do, and it’s hard to let that go. I think Virginia and Shannon’s relationship reflected that really well.
- “Fat Girl Rules” – Virginia comes up with a set of ridiculous rules for herself to follow. These rules aren’t things that will help Virginia’s confidence – they’re rules that serve to make other people more comfortable about Virginia’s body. The rules in Virginia’s head are so self-loathing and insulting. She refers to herself as a “moped” – something embarrassing to be ridden only in private, if ever. The rules are things that Virginia thinks will make her life easier, but only by assuming no one can ever care about her enough to risk their social standing and be seen with her.
- Byron – Virginia’s brother is kinda a jerk, even before the accusation that brings him back home from college. Virginia goes out of her way to visit Byron at school and he just blows her off. He doesn’t care enough to ask about her life before he practically shoves her out the door. When he moves back home, Byron makes no effort to be sensitive to how Virginia might feel about him being back. She has put her brother on a pedestal for her whole life, but he really has done nothing to deserve her admiration.
- parents – Virginia’s parents are incredibly insensitive, especially about her weight, and especially when they’re trying to help. Her mom treats Virginia’s body like it’s a taboo subject, while obviously wanting to talk about it at the same time. Her manner of tentatively bringing up her daughter’s weight makes Virginia feel like she’s an embarrassment to her own parents. Her dad makes comments about her body too, which is something I found to be just creepy.
- “Making people proud.” Is that what life is about? That’s what Mom and Dad told me a few weeks ago. Make them proud. Make myself proud. But I’ve spent my whole life trying to win their praise and where has it gotten me? – Virginia (pg. 141)
- “So what’s up with your toe?” “I think it’s broken.” “How did it happen?” “I was pissed at my mom so I kicked a wall in Saks.” – Dr. Love + Virginia (pg. 191)
Acquired: Library book (ebook)