This book originally came out in 2003, but Mackler revised it in 2018. She didn’t make major changes, but did upgrade it to fit with today’s technology a little better. One of my writing friends recommended the book to me because of the kissing in the beginning (it was relevant to a story I was writing). I’m glad she did, because I quite enjoyed the book.
Virginia is a fifteen-year-old fat girl who feels like a failure next to her perfect family. On top of that, her best (and only, really) friend moved across the country for a year. And she’s got this weird kissing thing going on with a boy (rather unfortunately) named Froggy. Her mom is pressuring her to lose weight. After her perfect brother—the one she’s always looked up to and loved tremendously—does something truly awful, she has to reevaluate everything about him and their relationship. This causes lots of additional stress in her life. The possibility of a trip out to see her best friend makes everything seem bearable again—until her mom nixes that. Virginia has a lot of things to figure out, and I think she does a great job of doing just that. She’s kind of remarkable—despite all the things going against her, she maintains a reasonably positive attitude. (And it’s believable even to grumpy old me.) One exchange Virginia has with her dad (after he tells her it looks like she’s lost weight) near the end of the book made me particularly happy:
“Dad? We’re trying to be more open with each other, right?”
Dad nodded, but his forehead was wrinkled in confusion.
“Then I have to tell you that I’d rather you don’t talk about my body. It’s just not yours to discuss.”
Overall, the book has a good message about body image and other issues important to girls. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in a fun read that still manages to be quite substantive. There's even a sequel I'm going to check out.