Study Guide

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

By Carolyn Mackler

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When is a friend not a friend? When he's Hamster Boy. But we're talking about Virginia here, and Virginia's in high school, where you bond with the people who are most like you, or like who you want to be. The point is, actually liking them is often secondary to seeing yourself in them. That's why Brie is so easily replaced by Brittany—the only requirements to join the Mean Girls' Club are having your name start with the same letters and being able to wear each others' clothes.

It isn't all shallowness when it comes to friendship in The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, though. Virginia always has Shannon, who's the kind of friend who will invite you on vacation, snuggle against you in the dark, and tell you that if she were a genie, she'd grant your three biggest wishes. She's one friend who's irreplaceable, even when she's spending a year clear across the country.

Questions About Friendship

  1. What makes Shannon and Virginia become true friends, even though they originally bonded over being outcasts?
  2. If Virginia were making new friends, would she be as jealous of Shannon's?
  3. Does the fact that Shannon's new friends have tattoos and aquamarine hair influence Virginia's decision to get her eyebrow pierced and dye her hair purple?

Chew on This

A real friend is someone who loves you even when your life is falling apart, because they know you'd do the same for them.

Virginia needs Shannon more than Shannon needs her.

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