Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler

Another really good book (I seem to be doing better these days!).

Life in upper class Manhattan for Virginia Shreves is a hell-hole of low self-esteem, living up to brilliant siblings, and dealing with cluelessly abusively parents. The book, as is almost predictable in a book of this genre, is about Virginia coming out of her shell and changing her life, with some help from her friends and a few third-parties.

More like Meg Cabot than Sarah Dessen, Mackler ties things up a bit too neatly at the end, but at least some things are left open (Virginia never quite conquers her eating compulsions, for example). It's a good read and leaves you cheering at the end. It might even make a great movie, if Hollywood could ever get itself to make a teen movie with an overweight heroine.

But let me digress on something I've noticed a lot of in YA lit that bugs me: the depiction of parents. Now, my own parents were utterly clueless in many ways and I certainly had my reasons for disliking them, but parents are overwealmingly portrayed as either permissive or arrogant. Either the parents let the kid get away with EVERYTHING or they cut their children off and punish them for expressing themselves. Are there parents that fit this mold? Certainly! But how many more parents are there out there who try to reach their kids but don't know how to do it? It's a cheap shot to always have such two-dimensional parents. Should I ever write YA (one of my dreams), I'd like to write a story where the parents are trying, but just not getting it. Sure, they can do something mean (for dramatic effect), but let's give them some depth. I think young readers would appreciate that.

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