Mackler, Carolyn 1973–
Mackler, Carolyn 1973–
PERSONAL: Born 1973, in New York, NY; married Jonas Rideout, June, 2003. Education: Graduated from Vassar College, 1995.
ADDRESSES: Home—New York, NY. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Candlewick Press, 2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140.
CAREER: Young adult novelist.
(Editor, with editors of George magazine) 250 Ways to Make America Better, Villard (New York, NY), 1999.
Love and Other Four-Letter Words (young-adult novel), Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2000.
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things (young-adult novel), Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2003.
Vegan Virgin Valentine (young-adult novel), Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.
Contributor to periodicals, including American Libraries, Booklist, and Kliatt.
SIDELIGHTS: An author of young-adult novels, Carolyn Mackler is known for coming-of-age stories that allow spunky heroines to find their way in strange and sometimes hostile situations. In Love and Other Four-Letter Words, sixteen-year-old Sammie Davis finds herself living in New York City with her deeply depressed mother after her parents separate and her father moves to California. Feeling angry, out of place, and disturbed by her own developing body, Sammie looks forward to a visit from her best friend, Kitty. Beautiful Kitty is too self-absorbed to be much help and she simply tells Sammie to stop being such a "hip-pie-chick" and try to fit in. After a fight, Kitty leaves in a huff, and Sammie begins to question the whole need to fit in. She strikes up a friendship with equally off-beat Phoebe and starts to develop a romance with Eli, the hippie son of her mother's old roommate. For Booklist reviewer Hazel Rochman, "The nostalgia for the Beatles and Dylan is a bit overdone, but Mackler gets the contemporary scene with humor and realism."
Mackler has a flair for eye-catching titles, as illustrated by her second novel, The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things. This time it is not a codependent mother or an unfamiliar city that plagues the protagonist; rather, Virginia Shreves, overweight and lonely, feels oppressed by her own picture-perfect family. Her beautiful, high-minded sister is off in Africa with the Peace Corps. Her handsome, athletic brother is sailing through his sophomore year at Columbia. Meanwhile Virginia struggles through a Manhattan prep school while her parents nag her about her weigh and her image-conscious mother urges her to disguise her heft with layers of clothing in "camouflaging colors." When her brother is accused of date rape and suspended from school, Virginia begins to realize that her family is not so perfect after all—and may not have all the answers. Her "transition from an insecure girl desperate for her family's approval to a confident young woman might be a little messagey, but it's believable," noted Jen-nifer M. Brabander in Horn Book, and Booklist reviewer Ilene Cooper predicted "that many readers will immediately identify with Virginia's longings as well as her fear and loathing."
Vegan Virgin Valentine actually has two protagonists. The first is Mara, straight-A student, earnest vegetarian, and dutiful daughter dedicated to making her parents proud. Into her life comes V, daughter of Mara's much older, much less responsible sister, who sends V to live with her parents and go to Mara's high school while she tries to find herself. Aunt and niece get off to a rocky start, and it does not help that sexy, cynical, disrespectful V immediately goes after Mara's obnoxious ex-boyfriend. Eventually, of course, the two learn to accept each other, as Mara transforms "from tense, rigid perfectionist to relaxed, centered graduate," in the words of a Kirkus Reviews contributor, and V finds something to care about when she gets a part in the school play. Writing in the School Library Journal, Karyn N. Silverman commented, "This is a fast, often humorous read with some meat but no bite … just the universal theme of growing up and figuring out what's important."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 2000, Hazel Rochman, review of Love and Other Four-Letter Words, p. 2131; September 1, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, p. 115; June 1, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Vegan Virgin Valentine, p. 1720.
Bookseller, March 19, 2004, Caroline Horn, "Novels for Testing Readers: Carolyn Mackler Tells Caroline Horn Why She Enjoys Writing for Teenagers," p. 30.
Horn Book, September-October, 2003, Jennifer M. Brabander, review of The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, p. 614.
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; July 1, 2004, review of Vegan Virgin Valentine, p. 632.
Kliatt, July, 2003, Michele Winship, review of The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, p. 14; July, 2004, Claire Rosser, review of Vegan Virgin Valentine, p. 10.
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; June 21, 2004, review of Vegan Virgin Valentine, p. 64.
School Library Journal, September, 2000, Vicki Reutter, review of Love and Other Four-Letter Words, p. 233; September, 2003, Gail Richmond, review of The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, p. 218; August, 2004, Karyn N. Silverman, review of Vegan Virgin Valentine, p. 126.
Carolyn Mackler Home Page, http://www.carolynmackler.com (February 23, 2005).