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Big Mouth & Ugly Girl

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  3,844 Ratings  ·  341 Reviews
Matt Donaghy has always been a Big Mouth. But it's never gotten him in trouble -- until the day Matt is accused of threatening to blow up Rocky River High School.

Ursula Riggs has always been an Ugly Girl. A loner with fierce, staring eyes, Ursula has no time for petty high school stuff like friends and dating -- or at least that's what she tells herself Ursula is content w
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Published October 12th 2004 by HarperTeen (first published May 14th 2002)
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Nov 07, 2007 Valerie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Valerie by: Kim
Shelves: young-adult
"Ugly Girl" is a high school student (aka Ursula Riggs) who has built up walls around herself. Walls that protect her from the insensitivity of others (including her own disinterested family), and from changes and emotions that she doesn't want to (or can't) deal with in her life. Ugly Girl isn't afraid of anyone, and doesn't care what anyone thinks about her. She has black or fiery moods, and depends on no one but herself. She's a Warrior.

"Big Mouth" is another high school student - a boy named
Robert Beveridge
Joyce Carol Oates, Big Mouth and Ugly Girl (Harper, 2002)

Okay, I admit it. I'm a sucker for books like this. Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl into pickle. Boy gets girl out of pickle. Boy gets pickle into girl. They all live happily ever after.

Now turn that formula on its head.

Big Mouth is Matt Donaghy, class clown. Popular guy, suddenly arrested one afternoon as a suspect in a bomb scare. Ugly Girl is Ursula Riggs, captain of the basketball team, anything but popular, a witness to
Nov 21, 2012 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Give this book to every tween and teen you know. Adults, you should read it too. It's a fast read, a day or two at most, and the pages are filled with a sparse, honest prose that creates two characters who somehow manage to be outcasts and everygirl/boy at the same time. You know that teenage experience of feeling totally alone and different from everyone around you but then as an adult you realize everyone was feeling that way and so you were all actually together in that aloneness? This book e ...more
Crystal vasquez
Mar 08, 2009 Crystal vasquez rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Big mouth and Ugly girl was not really a good book at all in my opinion. Ursula was just an annoying character that needs to get over herself and just drop her tough girl act. The fact that the guy got in trouble for saying something was really ridiculous as well. I thought the story in the beginning was interesting until it began to repeat itself. Since the story is so fast pace it just goes on and on and doesn't make sense. Well maybe im just not into these kinds of stories but all I know is t ...more
Jul 02, 2010 Angie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: belovedbookshelf, ya
The first time I ever heard about BIG MOUTH & UGLY GIRL was on the lovely Shannon Hale's website a few years ago. I was browsing around and ran across a list of her book recommendations. This one was on the YA non-fantasy list and the title caught my eye. So I hunted down a copy at my local bookstore and went home with it. Something about her description of why she liked it made me certain it was worth buying sight unseen. I must have felt strongly because, let's be honest, I would never oth ...more
Sep 10, 2011 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-challenge
Have you ever made a joke that got you into a lot of trouble? It's seems funny as it's coming out of your mouth, but when an unintended person overhears the joke, you realize that you've gone too far? That's what happens to Matt, one of the main characters in Big Mouth & Ugly Girl. Matt makes a joke that actually gets him arrested by the police (you'll have to read to find out what the joke is). After the joke his life starts to fall apart, when all of the guys he thought were his friends s ...more
Thomas Strömquist
"Joyce Carol Oates is a wonderful author and even when she writes an apparent "young adult"-novel it is very fulfilling even for a general audience. Matt (the self-proclaimed "Big mouth") is a popular high school student who gets into trouble due to shooting off his big mouth. All of a sudden he finds himself not only not popular, but seemingly without any friends and when his parents move to sue the school for defamation he ends up being harassed by older kids. The clearing up of the trouble he ...more
Jessica Lugo
May 29, 2013 Jessica Lugo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Young adult fans are not to be fooled, played, or tricked. We know what we want - humor, excitement, teenage drama, lies, most of all we want laughs!!! We want to be able to vision the scenes and feel the scenes as well!!!

Big mouth & ugly girl by Joyce Carol Oates.....

This book has not just made me upset but also made me feel some what sad for Matt... Okay now I don't think its right how everyone decides to listen to the rumors that go around the school. Like someone should go ask directly
Sep 09, 2012 Rizza rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cassandra McCracken
Written in two perspectives, those of Ursula Riggs and Matt Donaghy, two students at the same high school, the novel peers deep into the ideas of true friendship and self discovery. As the character describes in first person, Ursula Riggs comes from a wealthy, attractive, and popular family, but she is none of those things. When Ursula went through puberty she grew "big" and "ugly." When society began to reject her for these superficial subjects, she developed a second self - she called this "Ug ...more
Rosa Martinez
Oct 30, 2013 Rosa Martinez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Big mouth and ugly girl is one of the most tremendous young adults books I have read in a while. There are two different types of main characters their is Ursula Riggs(ugly girl) and Matt Donaghy. (big mouth).They have totally completely different personality's . Matt always gets bullied around school by all the football players and jocks for spreading rumors.He is also suicidal. Ursula is very insecure because she is not the prettiest girl.They come together in a loneliness kind of way, they be ...more
Cindy Newton
I thought the protagonists were very interesting character studies--one a girl who was already a misfit and comfortable with it (or trying to be), and the other a boy who was mainstream and suddenly find himself, overnight, a misfit. Watching Matt having to learn to deal with his sudden expulsion from his life is fascinating. Ursula, as a misfit teen who is seemingly content to make her solitary way through life, still notices every stare, whisper, and comment from those around her. While sneeri ...more
May 05, 2010 Winddancer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book really surprised me. At first I thought the title was describing one person. I liked how the novel didn't read in a linear, chronological fashion. I also liked how it kept switching point of view. It kept things interesting, not that this story needed livening up. I completely identified with Ursula and “Ugly Girl” and was quite satisfied as a reader to watch, through the course of the novel, how Ursula mastered Ugly Girl and was able to use her to make situations better for those arou ...more
Oct 01, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya

Ursula Riggs knows people don't like her. She's completive and tough. She's tall, which gives her an advantage when she plays basketball but not for her social life. That's ok with her because she doesn't need people. She's above it all. Until she finds out that Matt Riggs is being arrested for making a bomb threat during lunch at their school. She knows that's not what he said because she overheard him.

This book was so hard to put down. It really exposes the hysteria we have now, post Columb
Colin Kirkwood
Sep 03, 2015 Colin Kirkwood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think it is a great book and that the way they ended up as friends was unusual. I think that it was unfair that Matt automatically was blamed for saying that he was gonna blow up the school. But the thing was that every body believed that he said it and was going to do it. He was only joking and the people who told just did it because of there father. The fact that he was in the papers for saying that he was going to blow up the school made his life and everybody related with it miserable alon ...more
Jun 08, 2014 Maryam_H_145506 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book because it is talks about my age and what happen to teenagers like me. Big mouth and Ugly girl describe what teenagers go through in high school and what turn's a student life upside-down. I liked the way they meet each other as the ugly girl (Ursula). She is a girl who doesn't in connect with people but she doesn't like the wrong judgments around the big mouth (Matt). Also, what I like in this book is that they tried to learn from each other and help each other when som ...more
Dec 08, 2010 Rita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel was pretty good. I liked how the perspectives were switched between Ursula Riggs and Matt Donaghy. The plot itself was also really good.
It was a fun read. But not that outstanding as I first thought it would be.
But all in all - a nice read.
Jul 09, 2008 Kendall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is very original. The story of an outcast and an insider become outcast who become friends, not caring what anyone else thinks. It is interesting to realize how false accusations and rumors can really hurt people's reputations and lives.
Sean Callaghan
Apr 04, 2016 Sean Callaghan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great beginning. I thought this would give a little more than the standard YA novel ending... and then Oates wrapped it up much too neatly.
Gordon Ambos
Jul 06, 2014 Gordon Ambos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Ich fand es richtig gut! Die beiden Protagonisten Ursula und Matt waren unglaublich gut ausgearbeitet. Und auch das Ende hatte ich mir genau so gewünscht.
Charlotte Larsson
2003 I wrote that this feels like Catcher in the Rye for the 1990s. I learnt the word truculent
Jul 20, 2013 Pauline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Fantastic. A book about standing up for what is the right thing to do no matter what.
Seit dem Lesen der Kurzgeschichte Happy von Joyce Carol Oates bin ich definitiv ein Fan dieser Autorin, denn diese Geschichte ist, obwohl sie augenscheinlich oberflächlich geschrieben und nur drei Seiten lang ist, wahnsinnig atmosphärisch und hat genau wegen ihrer Abstraktheit einen sehr guten Eindruck bei mir hinterlassen. Von daher bin ich vor Freude fast durchgedreht, als ich sah, dass Oates auch Bücher veröffentlicht hat und mir spontan Big Mouth & Ugly Girl ausgeliehen habe.
Und leider h
Destinie Buske
Feb 10, 2017 Destinie Buske rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now, I rarely read any kind of book that is not fiction, but this one struck my interests. The beginning seemed to be well played out, I loved the detail and small facts about each character. Although there could be more dialouge then description but I think the way it was played out, that it fit the book perfectly.

In fact, if I ever get a golden retriever, I am most definitely naming her Pumpkin.
Melanie Dulaney
Mar 15, 2017 Melanie Dulaney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: realistic
In the wake of rising incidents of school violence, this book will make readers stop and think about the consequences for all when threats are made. Full of very real emotions of teens dealing with the drama and the tough decision-making in high school. The language used by "Ugly Girl" may offend some, but is a vital part of her emotional defenses. Probably not appropriate for those under 13.
Richie Partington
11 April 2002 BIG MOUTH & UGLY GIRL by Joyce Carol Oates, HarperTempest, May 2002 ,

Gosh. I never imagined that I'd get to share old stories that involved reading Joyce Carol Oates...or that I'd be characterizing a book of hers as one of this year's YA highlights.

But, here I am!

I first encountered the writing of Joyce Carol Oates in 1973 as a freshman at the University of Connecticut. I experienced two semesters of freshman comp with a beautiful and demanding grad student named Ann Gates. The
Mar 01, 2017 Connie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Young Adult book so not the usual I expect from this author but a satisfying read.
Emma Mortensen
I kind of has a feeling how the ending would be like, sadly..
Carol Del Angel
Mar 14, 2017 Carol Del Angel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant fiction for teens
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Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She is also the recipient of the 2005 Prix Femina for The Falls. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and she has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. Pseudonyms ... Rosamond Smith and Laure ...more
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