Author: Erin Jade Lange
Release date: September 18th 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA
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A boy everyone calls “Butter” is about to make Scottsdale High history. He’s going to eat himself to death live on the Internet – and everyone will watch.My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
He announces his deadly plan to an army of peers and expects pity, insults or even indifference. Instead, he finds morbid encouragement. When that encouragement tips the scales into popularity, Butter has a reason to live. But if he doesn’t go through with his plan, he’ll lose everything.
I'm going to be honest here. I struggle a lot with sizeism. Even though I've learned, rationally, that size and health are not directly related, and that overeating is an eating disorder like any other, I still struggle. The idea that thin equals healthy, and that fat people are lazy and just need to stop eating so much and just try to be healthy were instilled in me so much while growing up that it's really hard to let go of them. I'll know that my thoughts are really mean and problematic, but I just can't turn that inner voice off, telling me that obesity is the obese person's fault.
So my attitude meant that Butter and I didn't connect right away - in the beginning, I'll admit I was a little grossed out by how much he eats and by how he insists that it's not his fault. But after a while, he grew on me. As the story progresses, we get to see behind the facade, to read about his insecurities and all his troubles, and those did make me feel for him. It was eye-opening to see how every single aspect of his life is affected by his weight. His character growth is tremendous, and towards the end, I really grew to love Butter. Butter is a great character; so much more than what he seems to be. I just wish we'd gotten to know some more about his past, about how he turned into this 400-pound kid.
But even if I hadn't connected with Butter, I would have kept reading, because the concept makes this book impossible to put down. The whole idea is morbid and disgusting and just wrong - and completely intriguing. I was disgusted and horriefied, but I couldn't stop reading; I needed to know whether Butter would actually go through with it. There's an underlying sense of tension and fear of what Butter will do, the knowledge that there is no way this could end happily, that had me on the edge of my seat throughout.
I love the secondary characters. With one exception, none of them are black and white. They all make mistakes and none of them are really innocent in this whole thing, but you could always see where they're coming from. Even the characters I would have loved to hate, I couldn't, because you could see that they're not terrible people; they just make some bad decisions.
I'm not the best to judge, but I do think Erin Jade Lange handled the difficult topic of child obesity with great tact and grace. Her portrayal felt very honest and real, and I love how it never got preachy. There are so many ways this book could have preached about obesity or about bullying, but it doesn't - it just tells a story. I wasn't a huge fan of the ending - a little too happy for my taste - but in a way, I get it, because a darker, more pessimistic ending would have been really hard to take.
Butter is, at times, horrifying and, quite frankly, disgusting. (Seriously, the scene describing how Butter got his name made me want to never eat again.) But it also tells a hopeful, honest, beautiful story. There are scenes that'll break your heart, and there are scenes that'll put a smile on your face. It's not an easy book to read, but I highly recommend it.