Saturday, July 21, 2018

[Book Review] The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I by Carolyn Mackler

Book Review of The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I by Carolyn Mackler

The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I by Carolyn Mackler is the follow up novel to one of my all time favorites, The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things.

When I heard that this book was coming out, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it! Of course I had to do a quick reread of the first book before diving in to this one.

I'll admit it, my expectations were very high. And I'm so glad to say that this book did not disappoint!

Let's dive in!

The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I by Carolyn Mackler

It's been five months since sixteen-year-old Virginia Shreves thought her life was finally back on course: she has come to terms with who she is both inside and out, and she's even started to rebuild her relationship with her older brother Byron, whose date-rape charge completely shattered everything.

But just as she's getting used to the new normal, Virginia's world turns upside down again. Sparks with boyfriend Froggy Welsh the Fourth fade, her best friend Shannon bombshells bad news, and then the police arrest Byron.

As Virginia struggles to cope, she meets Sebastian, an artist with his own baggage. The pair make a pact not to share their personal dramas. But secrets have a way of coming out, and theirs have the potential to ruin everything.

In this follow-up to the acclaimed The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, Carolyn Mackler brings Virginia's story satisfyingly full circle in a hope-filled tale of forgiveness, love, friendship, and the beauty in life's imperfections.

My thoughts:
I LOVE that this one picks up in a similar fashion as the first book.
First sentence of the first book: Froggy Welsh the Forth is trying to get up my shirt. 
First sentence of the second book: Froggy Welsh the Forth is trying to get inside my jeans. 

Yet again, I have to say that the relationship between Virginia and Froggy was very realistic. What Virginia went through when "falling out of like" was so spot on with how I felt with my first boyfriend it's not even funny... Complete with going a bit quiet and not knowing how to break up with someone for the first time ever.

This book was a wonderful follow up, but it can absolutely be read as a standalone! In the first few chapters, the author does a great job reminding the reader what happened in the previous book, but in a way that could be read with fresh eyes without straying into info-dumping.

I can see why some people struggle with this book. I'm on the side of the divide that absolutely loves it because of how real and raw it was. The main character was so relatable and so realistic. When she was being negative, or having trouble coping with something, it reminded me so much of myself when I was a teenager.

There are some situations that will get your blood boiling, some things make you feel irritated, but there is also a lot of really lovely and heartwarming scenes. I was so happy to see some great things happen in Virginia's life, and with each one, I just wanted to stand up and cheer for her!

And Sebastian! I LOVED his character! It was so refreshing to see someone like him; he was so calm, open minded, and understanding. There was a scene outside of Magnolia's Bakery that made me tear up because of how sweet he was.

My only irk is pretty slight. There were just a few sentences that ended really abruptly, like they were missing a few words. One example was during a conversation, “...I’ve said to remember us little people when." When, what?

My favorite passages:
Mountains of doubt followed by valleys of justification.

It’s hard to imagine that the world is still turning when mine has been shaken upside down.

My final thoughts:
I'm so very happy that we finally got to see what happened next in the life of Virginia Shreves. While I would be happy with the story ending here, I would be equally happy to read more! I would just love to see what happens next.

Thanks for reading!
If you have read this one, I would love to hear your thoughts!


  1. AHH!! I have to get this one like STAT!

  2. So now I apparently have 2 books i need to read!

  3. I need to read both of these pronto!

  4. I didn't know this was the second book until after I'd read it, but I had no trouble following the story. Like you, I loved how raw and realistic everything was. Virginia felt like someone I would meet and see in real life, and her experiences were authentic. I hated how her parents said and did things without thinking about how it would affect their daughter. A parent should know better. Froggy wasn't around for long in this one, so I don't really know too much about him, but I did love Sebastian. I enjoyed how they toured the city and even the towel conundrum Virginia solved at work... it was an awesome story.

    𑁋 Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear?

    1. Did you enjoy how the story ended? I like how open and unassuming it was!

    2. That's great! Are you going to go back and read book one? It's SO good!! And yes, I loved the ending in this one! It leaves us off in such a hopeful position! :)

  5. It's the first time I'm hearing of this book, but it looks so good. I love when characters are so raw and realistic, and the themes seem quite powerful, too.
    Lovely review!

  6. I'm glad you enjoyed this sequel! Sometimes sequels don't live up to the original.

    1. I was SO nervous about it! I'm so glad it didn't disappoint! :)

  7. I haven't read either of these, but I'm so glad to hear you loved it! I know it's been awhile since the first one came out so you just never know how it will be! :) I love realistic contemporary novels.


    1. I think you would enjoy these books! They're a bit harsh and frustrating, but SO realistic!

  8. Sounds like this book captured a lot of realism! Glad you loved it!

  9. I saw this on Instagram yesterday and just had to pop over to see what you thought of it. Sounds hilarious!

  10. I'm not familiar with either of these books but they do sound like fun!

  11. I recall really liking The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things. Sounds like a fun follow up!

    1. It sure is! I'm so glad there was a second book!

  12. This sounds like a good read but don't know if it's something I'd pick up. I love the cover and the titles of both are pretty awesome.