Friday, October 19, 2018

The Universe is Expanding and So Am I, by Carolyn Mackler

In this sequel to The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, Virginia is falling out of like with Froggy.  She's also trying to come to terms with her older brother’s fall from grace after his suspension from Columbia for allegedly committing date rape.

Summer is hitting her with surprises as her friend Shannon decides to not come home, her older sister does, and she meets a new guy – Sebastian – an artist with plans to attend Columbia in the fall.  And then her brother is arrested for the rape charge for the woman decides to press charges.

None of this stops Virginia from playing tour guide and showing off the Big Apple to Sebastian and a romance developing.  However, in one of those crazy coincidences that only ever occur in novels, he turns out to be much more intimately tied to her family than she could have imagined.  And, as a result of this revelation, Virginia and Sebastian have to make some sobering decisions about their own relationship.  They choose badly. of course, which gives us a story to read.

While dealing with the thorny issue of date rape, this story is actually fairly light stuff.  Mackler is a great writer and can write really funny passages -- she's wasted on serious drama and doesn't dwell on it.  Virginia is one of my favorites characters from her novels and I looked forward to this sequel.  It did not disappoint. Virginia’s voice is mildly self-deprecating but brave and strong when she needs to be.  The ending is a bit too perfect for Virginia (and the rape charge gets largely sidestepped) but wrap up feels good and not too contrived.

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