Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review: Butter by Erin Jade Lange

by Erin Jade Lange
Young Adult Contemporary

Book Description
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.


Butter by Erin Jade Lange

Life is lonely and hard for 16 year old Butter. He's tipping the scales at over 420 pounds, and the ruthless kids at his high school gave him the unflattering nickname, that unfortunately stuck. The only things that give him joy in life are playing his saxophone, his online relationship with a girl from his school (who doesn't know the truth about who she's talking to), and of course, eating.

Finally, Butter reaches a breaking point and decides to put up a website, where he proclaims that he will be eating himself to death on New Year's Eve at the stroke of midnight. This changes his life in ways he never imagined. Will he go through with his suicide, or is that someone out there that cares enough to stop him?

This was an emotional and powerful book. I hope that it can get through to the kids who need to read it.

Butter is a complex character. We don't even learn his real name until the last page of the book. That is sad, because he's basically resigned himself to being Butter. He of course wishes he had the idyllic high school life--but at the same time, he's stuck in a vicious circle. He's doesn't have any friends because he's fat, but he's fat because he doesn't have any friends. He eats to fill a hole that food cannot fill.

He knows he eats entirely too much, but Butter still refuses to believe that his weight is his fault. His mom wavers back and forth between cutting down the amount of food he eats and basically being worried when he doesn't eat as much as he usually does.

When Butter made the blog and suicide threat, I'm not entirely sure he ever meant to go through with it. The ending of the book didn't really clear it up for me either--but I think that's the point. Butter himself probably didn't know whether he really wanted to die, or if he was just giving a cry for help.

I enjoyed seeing Butter interact with his classmates, but it was definitely bittersweet because they were probably only interested in him because of his blog. How different could Butter's life had been if he had only stopped being so introverted years ago?

In the end, this was a classic tale of "be careful what you wish for." Yes, Butter got friends and popularity, but the cost was very high. I believe that all teens will learn something from reading this book--but it will hold a special place for those who have ever been bullied.

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Carrie runs the blog Sweet Southern Home, and is a stay at home wife and mom to one little boy. When she’s not reading, she’s usually watching Netflix with her husband, playing outside with her son, or baking. Her family would describe her as sometimes annoyingly sarcastic, but mostly lovable. 

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