Virginia’s universe is expanding
It has been a few months since teenager Virginia decided that her life will change for the better. She thinks that she’s more confident about her appearance now. She also has a boyfriend (yes, it’s official!), Froggy, and the family problems revolving around her brother’s “ordeal” seem to belong to the past.
But what if this kind of life isn’t what she wants anymore?
What if her feelings for Froggy have faded away? Even her parents constantly try to put her on a diet and urge her to lose weight. If everyone thinks that way about her and she breaks up with Froggy, will she ever find another person that likes her again? And then there’s Sebastian: that smart, adorable geek she met one day by chance, making her life exciting again!
As if body image issues and boyfriend problems weren’t enough, her brother’s “ordeal” will come back to haunt the whole family. Byron is in serious trouble. Virginia, once his most devoted follower, will have a very hard time deciding whether she still loves her brother or she can’t stand him anymore.
With her best friend hiking on the other side of the country, Virginia will have to face family secrets, troubles and bullying all by herself. But maybe she is much stronger than what she had thought about herself. So when a final, big secret comes to the light, will she be able to handle it and move on?
The Universe Is Expanding And So Am I is a very pleasant surprise for reader. Hiding so much more than a teenage love and image issues, the book manages to focus on many important life aspects in an extremely intelligent, funny, and sometimes bittersweet way. From bullying to family relationships, Virginia’s ordeals urge you to think about so many issues that are current, especially in teenagers and young adults.
Parental love and the question of whether it is always unconditional or not is one that you will constantly meet in this young woman’s story. This is he portrait of a family that, at first, looks picture perfect : successful parents, beautiful children with bright future, lots of money. But as the story unfolds, the reader has a chance to fully unearth the family secrets, which in this case are a lot. The contrast between the pretense and the acceptance of one’s true self is constant, and the reader can only hope that all the characters, especially our lovely Virginia, will find the courage to accept their true selves.
And then, of course, there’s the “ordeal”, showing us how a family structure can change when one member has committed an offense. It is not just about Byron, it’s also about his parents – and how Virginia’s feelings about her brother have changed.
What is most admirable about this story, however, is how the writer has managed to portray all this, and much more, in a way that is not heavy, or particularly gloomy. Carolyn Mackler has managed to take a lot of important issues and fit them into a book that is funny, absorbing, and incredibly real.
This is both a modern Romeo And Juliet story, and a family story, all wrapped in excellent writing style, tender scenes and witty internal monologue. The Universe Is Expanding And So Am I is a book definitely worth reading (and re-reading, and then reading again some more!), strongly recommended for fans of the YA genre.