Born 1973, in New York, NY; married Jonas Rideout, June, 2003. Education: Vassar College, graduated, 1995.
Home—New York, NY. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Candlewick Press, 2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140.
Love and Other Four-Letter Words was an American Library Association Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers and an International Reading Association Young Adults Choice.
Love and Other Four-Letter Words, Delacorte (New York, NY), 2000.
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2003.
Also author of e-book The Class of 2000. Contributor to the anthologies 250 Ways to Make America Better, 1999, and Body Outlaws. Contributor of short stories and articles to American Girl, Girl's Life, Glamour, Teen People, Jump, Self, Los Angeles Times, Seventeen, and Shape. Contributing editor, Ms.
Carolyn Mackler has written two young adult novels featuring ordinary girls who feel awkward about themselves and are trying to find a place in their world. "So many of us feel like we don't fit in, that we're inferior to others," Mackler explained in an interview posted at the TeenReads Web Site. It takes time to learn, Mackler found, that "We're not so bad after all." Her stories of triumph and strengthened self-worth have been popular not only with teenage readers but with the critics as well.
Mackler grew up in western New York state in a house of storytellers. Her mother read to her constantly. "My dad would tell me what he called his 'roots,' the stories of his life," Mackler revealed in an interview with the TeenReads Web Site. Mackler herself has been telling stories, literally, since she was a little girl. When she was four or five years old, she used a tape recorder to record herself reciting stories she had created. Later, in high school, she moved to writing in daily journals, mostly about the boys she had crushes on. In college, she began to formally write stories and poems. Just after graduating from Vassar College in 1995, Mackler began writing the manuscript that became her first novel, Love and Other Four-Letter Words. She has also published short stories and articles in a variety of magazines, including Seventeen, Girl's Life, and American Girl.
Love and Other Four-Letter Words is a coming-of-age story about sixteen-year-old Sammie Davis, whose parents are going through a trial separation. Her college professor father decides to go to California, while her unstable mother, overwhelmed by the situation, has become withdrawn and refuses to get out of bed. Sammie must look after her in a small New York City apartment. Meanwhile, Sammie's self-absorbed best friend Kitty has become sexually active and too involved with her new boyfriend to have much time for her. Sammie herself struggles with her self-image, brought on by her heavy-set figure and inexperience with boys. "The protagonist must deal with adjusting to a new city, a depressed mother who can't get out of bed, and only seems to manage monosyllabic responses to her father's phone conversations," according to a critic for Publishers Weekly. Vicki Reutter in the School Library Journal explained that "despite the stressful situation, there is a lighthearted element to the novel that keeps the mood balanced." Eventually, Sammie finds real friends, including a boyfriend, and her parents seem to be on the road to reconciliation. "Many teens will read this for the facts about sex and growing up as well as the story," Hazel Rochman wrote in Booklist. "This sounds as if it could be a depressing novel," a reviewer for the Bookseller admitted, "but the voice of Sammie and the depiction of her relationships with her friends and her family, both old and new, have a light and humorous touch."
In her second novel, The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, Mackler again features a character with a self-image problem. Virginia Shreves belongs to the "perfect family." Her older sister Anais is in Africa with the Peace Corps; her brother Byron is a rugby star attending college; and her mother is a psychologist. But overweight Virginia is being pressured by her mother to go on a diet. Meanwhile, her best friend Shanna is out of state for the school term and Virginia feels lonely and alone. And she is still trying to figure out if her boyfriend Froggy really cares about her. When Byron is accused of date rape and kicked out of school, Virginia begins to realize that maybe her "perfect family" is not so perfect after all. That is when she begins to accept herself as she is, flaws and all. "It's risky to write about an overweight girl when the weight of America's teens has reached epidemic proportions," Taylor Morris noted in the Romantic Times Web Site. "Mackler does it with grace, wit and sincerity." A critic for Publishers Weekly found that "the heroine's transformation into someone who finds her own style and speaks her own mind is believable—and worthy of applause." Michele Winship in Kliatt called the story "funny, touching, and very real," while a critic for Kirkus Reviews believed that "Virginia's emotions progress from despondence to anger, joy, and strong independence, all portrayed with clarity." Mackler "does an amazing job of capturing the wistful self-consciousness of teenage girls, and Virginia's transformation is inspiring," Trisha Ping wrote in BookPage.
If you enjoy the works of Carolyn Mackler
If you enjoy the works of Carolyn Mackler, you might want to check out the following books:
Ann Braeshares, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, 2001.
Megan McCafferty, Second Helpings, 2003.
Louise Rennison, Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicholson, 2000.
Sonya Sones, What My Mother Doesn't Know, 2001.
Speaking of how she came to write The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, Mackler explained in an interview posted on her Web site: "I'm a professional snoop. As I ride in the subway or walk in Central Park, I eavesdrop on any teenager who comes into my earshot." Listening to their conversations, and speculating about the young people she sees in the street, Mackler began to ask herself questions about their lives. From these questions, and the possible answers she imagined, Mackler developed a story. "None of the events in my novels have happened to me," she noted in her Web site interview. "But at the same time, when I'm writing a story, I often draw on my feelings (about my parents' divorce or my first relationship or a challenging friendship) and that helps me create more realistic characters."
Biographical and Critical Sources
American Libraries, December, 2001, Beverly Goldberg, "Principal Bans Love," p. 25.
Booklist, August, 2000, Hazel Rochman, review of Love and Other Four-Letter Words, p. 2131.
Bookseller, November 9, 2001, review of Love and Other Four-Letter Words, p. 36.
Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, November, 2002, review of Love and Other Four-Letter Words, p. 216.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2003, review of The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, p. 861.
Kliatt, July, 2003, Michele Winship, review of The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, p. 14.
Observer, February 17, 2002, review of Love and Other Four-Letter Words.
Publishers Weekly, September 25, 2000, review of Love and Other Four-Letter Words, p. 118; July 21, 2003, review of The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, p. 197.
School Library Journal, December, 1999, Becky Ferrall, review of 250 Ways to Make America Better, p. 166; September, 2000, Vicki Reutter, review of Love and Other Four-Letter Words, p. 233.
Shape, June, 2003, Carolyn Mackler, "The Imperfect Bride," p. 194.
BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (October, 2003), Trisha Ping, review of The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things.
Carolyn Mackler's Home Page,http://www.carolynmackler.com/ (December 16, 2003), interview with Carolyn Mackler.
Daily Celebrations.com,http://www.dailycelebrations.com/ (December 16, 2003), biography of Carolyn Mackler.
Romantic Times,http://www.romantictimes.com/ (December 16, 2003), Taylor Morris, review of The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things.
TeenReads.com,http://www.teenreads.com/ (December 16, 2003), biography of Carolyn Mackler.
Write Away Web Site,http://improbability.ultralab.net/writeaway/ (December 16, 2003), Hannah Hogan, review of The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things.*