Title: The Universe is Expanding and So Am I
Author: Carolyn Mackler
Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction
Release Date: May 29th, 2018
Buy This Book: Amazon/Audible
Virginia Shreves’ world implodes again in this long-awaited follow-up to Printz Honoree The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things.
Sixteen-year-old Virginia Shreves’ life is finally back on course: she’s accepted who she is inside and out and is rebuilding her relationship with brother Byron, whose date-rape charge shattered everything.
But just as she adjusts to her new normal, her world turns upside down again. Sparks with boyfriend Froggy fade, her best friend bombshells bad news, and then the police arrest Byron. As Virginia struggles to cope, she meets Nate, an artist with his own baggage. The pair vow not to share personal drama. But secrets have a way of coming out, and theirs could ruin everything.
Just in time for The Earth, My Butt, and Other BIg Round Things’ 15th anniversary, Virginia’s hope-filled story of love, friendship, and the beauty in imperfection continues, by acclaimed author Carolyn Mackler.
I read this book immediately after finishing the first book in the series (The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things), so I was already invested in the characters and able to jump right in. The first thing I noticed was that the author did a great job of modernizing this book, without it being obvious that it was written 15 years later. It was a smooth transition from one book to the next, although of course a lot has changed in those 15 years. The author also did a lot of “damage control” in this book, correcting some of the outdated ideologies from the previous book, without making it obvious or distracting from the story. But truthfully, if you haven’t and/or don’t want to read the first book, this book also works really well as a standalone.
Just like in the previous book, Virginia is such an amazing character! I can relate to her so much and remember struggling with a lot of the same things when I was a teenager. While reading this, I got so frustrated whenever her parents or brother made careless comments about her weight. As someone who’s been on the receiving end of those comments, I know they hurt and I hurt for her as I was reading those parts. But she handled it so well! She even pointed out when her parents were body-shaming her, although they didn’t always stop or try to understand how it made her feel. Despite that, Virginia was able to fight past her insecurities, learned how to accept herself just the way she is, and stayed true to herself no matter what life threw at her. In my eyes, she is a great role model for teens. I also loved Sebastian’s character and their unlikely friendship.
One thing I felt like the author could have done a bit more with was the topic of sexual assault. We don’t often see books written from the perspective of the family of the rapist, so there was a lot of potential here, but it seemed like the author wanted to keep the main focus on Virginia’s issues. I understand that reasoning, but I can’t help but feel like there was a missed opportunity here. Especially in light of the current #metoo movement. However, the parts that are included are really well done.
Overall, this was an enjoyable and fun read with a positive message. I would definitely recommend it!
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Thank you to Bloomsbury and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for my honest review.