Study Guide

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things Admiration

By Carolyn Mackler

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Anaïs is the only person I know who snorts in reference to Byron. The rest of the world worships him, myself included. (2.17)

We're on Team Anaïs here—Byron's pretty snort-worthy. (Anybody got a tissue?)

Other times, I would have the craziest notions. Like hoping Mom and Dad would get into a car accident and Byron and I could live together, just the two of us. (7.8)

When Virginia recalls her fondest memories with Byron, they have to do with junk food. Living only with him would mean not being judged… or so she thinks at the beginning, anyway.

That was after my parent's Biannual Byron Brunch. At the beginning of every new semester, they put out a huge bagel spread and invite the whole world—from downstairs neighbors to Connecticut friends to Byron's preschool teacher. (7.14)

The universal, unconditional Byron-worship could be one reason he felt entitled to force himself on Annie. After all, there's no mention of any adults ever telling him no.

For as long as I can remember, I've looked up to Byron more than anyone in the world… Everything I've done in my life—from where I chose to go to high school to how I feel about myself—has been because of my big brother. (15.61)

What Virginia doesn't get is that Byron may have been fun sometimes, but he withheld his affection, too, just like her parents. There was always someone else he'd rather hang with, given the choice.

But now that Byron has done something this horrible to a girl, I don't know what to make of anything. I mean, if you take away the sun's light, the planets won't know where to go or what to do. (15.62)

That's when a planet has to step up and be its own sun. (Okay, so the astronomy's a little whack, but go with us here.)

One day he was Big Man on Campus and now his life has come to a screeching halt. Usually when my brother is home, the phone rings off the hook—friends inviting him to nightclubs, girls asking him to movies, guys organizing an Ultimate Frisbee game. But now, hardly anyone calls for Byron. (19.15)

At least the other dudebros aren't high-fiving him, we'll give Hamster Boy that much.

I've always had so much respect for Mom—how she looks so together, how she has a successful career. But maybe I haven't been seeing her for who she actually is. That is, the Cleopatra part. (20.75)

Here's one way Byron resembles his mom—not the Cleopatra part, but the "things are not what they seem" part. Sometimes the people who look the most admirable are the ones carrying around the darkest secrets.

"I never considered date rape," Shannon says. "But I can't say I thought he walked on water, like you did. Maybe it's different because he's not my brother, but I'd hear the things he'd say to you or watch the way he'd blow you off all the time." (21.91)

Rice Krispie treats do not a strong sibling bond make. (However, they do make an excellent vehicle for melted chocolate. Try it sometime.)

In the old days, I would have paraded over and shown him my eyebrow ring. If he liked it, I would have been the happiest person on the planet. If he said it looked dumb, I would have taken it out instantly. But now I couldn't care less what Byron thinks. (23.13)

As the book's patron saint Ani DiFranco says, "Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right." In this case, the tool is body jewelry, and holding it right means putting it in your eyebrow.

"I used to worship you," I say, "even though you didn't treat me with the same respect that I treated you." (28.54)

Sometimes you have to knock your gods off their pedestals, smash the pedestals with steel-toed boots, and blast some really loud feminist rock. Just let all your body piercings heal first.

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