Study Guide

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

By Carolyn Mackler

Family

"But by the time she gave me It's Perfectly Normal, I'd already gotten my period, been felt up by two boys, and read every sexuality book in her study, all of which went typically" —Anaïs made the quotation marks again—"'unnoticed' by Mom." (2.12)

Virginia's mom drops a book about women's bodies on her daughter's beds and calls it sex education. Girls less smart, curious, and privileged than Anaïs and Virginia could have ended up getting an STD or pregnant.

I just know there's a stout, blond family out there, wondering how they wound up with a beautiful, slim, brown-haired daughter. What they don't realize is that she was meant to bear the name Virginia Shreves and live with her beautiful, slim, brown-haired family in a roomy apartment on Riverside Drive. (3.16)

Ah, the old switched-at-birth. Who hasn't felt that way at some point, whether they look like their parents or not?

Sometimes I wonder if my parents wish they'd stopped at two kids. No one's ever spelled it out, but I think I was a mistake. (3.27)

There are a lot of things Virginia's parents—especially her mom -- don't spell out.

I know I'm lucky to have been switched into such a stellar family. I just wish I made them feel more fortunate to have wound up with me. (3.30)

Virginia's weight could be a result of how insecure she feels in her family. Sometimes fat can be a shield (but not always, so don't go getting all judgmental on your peers).

Dad hates wearing tuxedos, so Mom is always bringing Byron to black-tie events. She used to do the same with Anaïs. I keep hoping mom will invite me one of these days, but she hasn't so far. (5.12)

Even though Byron's gone off to college, Anaïs hasn't assumed his status. She might feel as dissed as Virginia, even though she gets the occasional invitation; after all, there's not even an Annual Anaïs Appetizer.

As much as I think incest is the grossest thing in the world, I'm flattered that someone would actually think Byron and I are enough in the same league to be "hanging out." (7.50)

Hamster Boy is such a hamster. We'd go so far as to say a hamster is too cute an animal for him—he's more like a blob fish. (Look it up at your own risk.)

I don't want to get any more of those looks from Mom, like she feels sorry for me or she's ashamed of me. I want to be more like Anaïs and Byron. I want my parents to consider me Shreves-worthy. (8.95)

Uh, no, Virginia, actually you don't want to be like Byron—although Anaïs seems pretty righteous, if you're looking for a role model within the family.

But that doesn't take away Workout Fiend Mom and Naturally Thin Dad and Beautiful Anaïs and Built-Like-a-Greek-Body Byron. (10.24)

When Ms. Crowley tells Virginia not to crash-diet, Virginia knows she's right, but she also knows that being thin is the one sure way to win her parents' approval—in other words, to be "Shreves-worthy."

Whenever we've been to Citrus before, I've gotten the cheesy fajita platter. But this time around, I'm determined to order something light, like mango sushi. Maybe that will score me another approving maternal smile. (11.41)

For Virginia, dieting isn't as much about losing weight as gaining a mom. We don't know about you, but to us, the cheesy fajita platter sounds way more delicious than mango sushi.