Alcohol is a major player in The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things. In fact, if there were no booze, there might not be a story, since a major catalyst for the plot is Byron getting drunk and making the monumentally bad decision to rape Annie. Virginia, despite watching all this go down, makes the decision to get drunk on New Year's Eve, which ends not in good times but in puking, and after her mom takes a few too many trips to the punch bowl, she accidentally tells her daughter she's proud of her (okay, that last one's not so bad).
In other words, overall, if ever there was a cautionary tale about underage drinking, this book is it.
Questions About Drugs and Alcohol
- What does it say to Byron that when he moves home from school, his dad starts drinking more? Do you think his dad even realizes what kind of message he might be sending?
- Does the fact that both Byron and Annie had been drinking make his behavior any less reprehensible? Does Byron think being drunk is an excuse?
- Virginia is repulsed by the idea of sex after Byron rapes Annie. Why isn't she repulsed by the idea of alcohol?
- Why doesn't Byron talk to Virginia on New Year's Eve about the consequences of drinking?
Chew on This
Alcohol sometimes makes people behave in ways they wouldn't if they were sober, but it doesn't turn a guy into a rapist. It just gives him a (lame) excuse.
After the rape, Annie learns a lot about herself—most importantly, how strong and resilient she is. Byron learns nothing except that he's not popular anymore.