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Big Mouth and Ugly Girl

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  4,785 ratings  ·  411 reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
Ever make a stupid comment or joke, or say something you obviously didn't mean? Of course you have -- we all have. Was it ever taken out of context? Written in the wake of some highly publicized school shootings, Big Mouth & Ugly Girl takes a look at the shock waves that emanate from an overheard comment muttered in sarcasm, and the overzealous rea
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 29th 2003 by HarperTeen (first published May 14th 2002)
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Average rating 3.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,785 ratings  ·  411 reviews

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Nov 07, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Nov 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it did not like it
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
Robert Beveridge
Jan 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: finished, cle-pub-lib
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
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
May 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 02, 2010 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 otherwi ...more
May 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
Sucked at first but it turned out pretty well in the end
Jun 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for this book. I hadn't heard much about it, but it sounded great, and Joyce Carol Oates is a renowned author. (I haven't read any of her adult novels, but I do know a few of her essays and some of her poetry.) Big Mouth & Ugly Girl might not be all that hypable, but I was expecting a quiet gem, one of those unassuming but good books. But sadly, that is not what I got.

The feel of this book is very immature, which surprised me, since Joyce Carol Oates usually writes for adults. M
Sep 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 start ...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
Oct 01, 2009 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
Mrs. Wegener
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: realistic
I enjoyed this story way more than I thought I would when I first started it. I had to re-read the beginning chapters a few times before I could get into it. But, once I focused and got about a third of the way in, it was a quick & enjoyable read. Usually I'm very cynical about young adult novels and how characters are either cheesy or unbelievable, but I really loved Matt & Ursala at the end of the novel. I found them both to be extremely honest and relatable. I may not necessarily have believe ...more
Dec 08, 2010 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.
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The kids are alright, and also not at all okay. I had some serious reservations about how Joyce Carol Oates could pull off a YA novel, and that it might not have aged well since its 2002 publication, and was surprised on both. I plowed through this late one night and could not put it down. The premise is a bomb threat that two other students allegedly heard and reported to administration. What follows is the repercussions of an investigation and rumors that spread like wildfire. JCO does a wonde ...more
Rhuddem Gwelin
Oct 13, 2019 rated it liked it
JCO has an uneven production. Some of her books, like 'Blonde' and 'The Gravedigger's Daughter' are brilliant. Others less so. This one is somewhere in between. Certainly an OK read. I liked Ugly Girl quite a lot, Matt was OK, the story was OK and had important points to make. The ending was too sugary though, quite un-JCO-y. But, like I said, worth reading. ...more
Feb 27, 2019 rated it liked it
I would say that this was a pretty ok book. Maybe not one of my favorites but still a good book. It teaches a good lesson though. You should always think before you say something, even if you are being sarcastic. You never know how someone might take it.
Eugene Jaupaj
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Good book
Susan Heim
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
High school fiction published 17 years ago but still feels contemporary. It’s a quick read but Joyce Carol Oates creates great characters and covers a lot of ground in this short book.
Mar 27, 2020 rated it liked it
The book I read for my English class is Big Mouth and Ugly Girl by Joyce Carol Oates. Matt is the one of the main characters and his nickname is Big Mouth. People in his school call him this because he says stuff without thinking properly which gets him into trouble. Ursula Riggs known as The Ugly Girl is a highschool student. She plays basketball in her school’s team. She didn’t care about other people’s problem until she heard rumors about Matt being arrested. Unlike Matt's friends, she chose ...more
Jul 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really like this book. Like really, REALLY, REALLY like this book. And the weird part?--I got no idea why.

Big Mouth & Ugly Girl starts off with Matt Donaghy getting taken away by police into custody because they were two witnesses saying that he was going to blow up the school then massacre people. When Ursuala Riggs hears this, she is baffled, because even though she doesn't know Matt that well, she knows that he isn't the type to do this. And she isn't afraid to set things straight.

Jessica Lugo
May 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 to
Sep 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cassandra McCracken
Apr 29, 2010 rated it liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 08, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Jun 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Colin Kirkwood
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Moataz Abdel Latif
Jun 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: pdf, fiction
Oates' writing style is very unique & witty. I related so much to Ugly Girl. I felt that Oates was an adult trying too hard to know teeneagers' slang sometimes, when reading the dialogue. The ending was cute, but very, very predictable. I read this novel hoping to catch a glimpse of what Oates is capable of as a writer, since I've only heard of her adult fiction, so it was very interesting to me that she also wrote YA. This was my first book to read by her, and it was a very pleasurable experien ...more
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
I found this book rather boring to begin with but as it went on I got more into it and more invested in the characters. I wasn't overkeen on the writing style but I found the 2 min characters charming and relatable ..
I think if I was to have read this as a 15 year old I would of enjoyed it more as it is very much a coming of age story and would more relatable to a teen

It was a nice quick read and I enjoyed the relationship between Ursula and matt
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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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