Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Universe Is Expanding, and So Am I by Carolyn Mackler


Upon first glance, Virginia Shreves’ life appears immaculate: her famous father and gorgeous mother are the epitome of perfection, while her two older siblings, Anais and Byron, are highly respected. However, the past few months have turned Virginia’s life into shambles. Not only does she feel inadequate and out of place next to her family, but she also is struggling to come to terms with Columbia student Annie Mills’ claim that Byron raped her. She soon meets a mysterious guy named Sebastian who could possibly lift her back up, if not for the problems soon to come…

The concept of the story seems well thought-out, although there were a few pitfalls that make me a bit wary about recommending this book. Firstly, Virginia struggles to come to terms with her appearance throughout the story, but sometimes her self-deprecation overpowered the main plot. Secondly, the diction used in the story definitely was not that of what a sixteen-year-old girl would write. I found many of the sentences to sound monotonous and almost too formal for the way Virginia was portrayed. However, there were some positive aspects of the plot. I really enjoyed that we were able to see the aftermath of the rape case on the Shreves family, as it provided me with a perspective that I had never seen before. Moreover, I felt that Virginia’s caring personality was a catalyst for solving many issues, which made this book a much more interesting read.

I found Virginia’s “man vs. self” fight about whether she could accept her brother’s horrible actions to be very memorable. It is obvious that Virginia has a moral compass throughout the story, so to see her wonder whether she could forgive her brother was, a very important lesson in her journey to self-discovery.


Reviewed by Mitali Barik, Grade 11, Twin Hickory Area Library

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