The universe is expanding and so am I by Carolyn Mackler

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Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408897041
(Age: 12+) Recommended. This book is the sequel to The Earth, my butt, and other big round things however, it could be read as a stand alone. Virginia is the third child in a family of achievers and she feels like the odd one out. Her older sister is away serving with the Peace Corp and helping the underprivileged and her older brother is a popular good looking College boy. Both of her parents are successful and they live in a beautiful apartment in New York with a holiday house in the country. The whole family is into health and fitness, except Virginia. She is overweight, her first (and only) boyfriend is called 'Froggy' and she is not in the popular crowd at her exclusive Manhattan school.
Virginia is looking forward to summer break, spending time with her best friend and doing work experience at her dad's office when things start to spiral downwards. Her best friend Shannon is now going away with her parents and can't do work experience after all, her brother gets arrested and her sister comes home with a secret, just to name a few disasters. There is madness all around her and she feels like she is being left in the background. Her parents are consumed with Byron's arrest and impeding court case and her sister's homecoming and Virginia feels like an afterthought in the family.
While all this mayhem is going on around her, Virginia finds an escape with a new boy she meets at the bagel store (a prohibited item in her mum's eyes) and suddenly Virginia feels like the summer holiday isn't lost after all. This new friendship isn't without its complications but Virginia does her best to keep life simple in a world of madness around her.
I really enjoyed this book and I will now read The Earth, my butt, and other big round things. I would recommend this story to those who love an easy contemporary story and the issue arising from Byron's arrest is written in a non-confronting manner.
Recommended for 12+
Gerri Mills