By Erin Jade Lange
September 4, 2012
Ages 14 and up
A lonely obese boy everyone calls “Butter” is about to make history. He is going to eat himself to death-live on the Internet-and everyone is invited to watch. When he first makes the announcement online to his classmates, Butter expects pity, insults, and possibly sheer indifference. What he gets are morbid cheerleaders rallying around his deadly plan. Yet as their dark encouragement grows, it begins to feel a lot like popularity. And that feels good. But what happens when Butter reaches his suicide deadline? Can he live with the fallout if he doesn’t go through with his plans? With a deft hand, E.J. Lange allows readers to identify with both the bullies and the bullied in this all-consuming look at one teen’s battle with himself.
It has taken me a while to get around to writing my review of this book, and I have no excuse for that. But I HAD to post my review, even if it has been two months since the release date.
BUTTER by Erin Jade Lange is a book that resonated with me in a way I had not expected it to. I had actually started this book after finishing one I’d hoped I would love, but unfortunately turned out to be just ‘eh’. On the contrary, I went into BUTTER on thinking it would be just ‘eh’. Why? Well, I admit, I initially thought that Butter would literally be eating HIMSELF, and I was somewhat (morbidly) disappointed when I discovered that he would just be eating a lot, eating and eating to the point of death. (Silly me!) But joyfully, I finished the book having fallen completely and utterly in love with Butter (both the book and the character!)
Simply stated, if you or anyone you have known has ever dealt with weight issues, bullying, peer pressure or any type of insecurity whatsoever in high school (which is just about everyone) you HAVE to read this book. The book is told from the point of view of “Butter”, a morbidly obese senior in high school who has been dealing with weight issues most of his life. You can blame it on bad genes, terrible self control, or his enabling mother, but when push comes to shove, this guy is FAT. And he’s in high school. With that said, I am sure you can only imagine the treatment he receives by his classmates. Go ahead, imagine it, guys. I am willing to bet that how he is actually treated is far worse than anything your mind comes up with. Just wait until you read about how he got his name. *shudder*
Oh, and he’s been to fat camp. So we get to join Butter as he is horribly treated in school AND as he stands by growing fatter and fatter, while his fellow camp buddies become thinner and thinner. What a real self-esteem crusher, right? And then there’s this girl… Yup. Butter, who is actually incredibly funny, likable and an all-round great guy, happens to like one of the most popular girls in school. Doh! That can only lead to trouble, right? And it does… In a series of events that leads to Butter proclaiming his eventual demise (death by eating) to his classmates over the internet.
Erin’s writing and her story and her characters are as unforgiving as they are hopeful. Her characters are at once likable and highly realistic. They are forced to make difficult decisions, many of which lead them (or should I say Butter, in particular) into big trouble. Erin is an adept author, mastering the difficult task as a female author to write as a male lead. Butter is endearing, if not a bit, well… stupid… at times because of the things he says and does (but that comes with the territory of being a teenager, right?) And the kids at Butter’s school? They are downright awful. But then again, they are your typical teenagers, too, right?
So how does it all go down? How far will Butter take his antics? And will he get the girl? Well, what unfolds may surprise you, perhaps disturb you, or maybe even make you think. I know that’s what it made me do.
Highly re-readable and unforgettable, I recommend BUTTER by Erin Jade Lange to anyone who wants a different and insightful contribution to contemporary YA fiction.