Author: Erin Jade Lange
Genre/Audience: Contemporary, Young adult
Publication: Bloomsbury, 2012
Summary: “Butter” is a 423-pound lonely teen, nicknamed after an incident in which he was bullied into eating an entire stick of dirty butter. This incident is pretty indicative of his life though, in which he is constantly belittled, and made to feel invisible, despite his massive size. Lonely and sick of his life, Butter declares online one night that he will eat himself to death over a live webcast on New Year’s Eve on ButtersLastMeal.com. He doesn’t know what to expect after his declaration is made, but what he gets is DEFINITELY not what he expected. He is invited to hang out with the “it” crowd, which includes Anna, the girl of his dreams. Their morbid curiosity, masked by fake friendship, urges his new “friends” to egg him on in his suicidal plan, create deadly bucket lists for him, and place bets on what he will eat for his last meal. Though all of their invitations to hang out and party are prompted only by Butter’s deadly declaration, he begins to enjoy all the attention and popularity, though he knows it’s fake. He begins to question his decision, but knows that if he doesn’t go through with his plan, life will go back to normal, or maybe even worse than before. When the big night arrives, Butter must make a decision that can either take or change his life forever.
My Thoughts: This book seriously packed a punch. Right off the bat, your heart is broken for Butter. My heart broke a little more than the average reader’s may have and that’s because me and Butter… we have a lot in common. See, some of you may know, I used to be morbidly obese not that long ago. In the last 13 months, I’ve changed my life and I’ve lost 100 pounds (so far – still going!). I, too, was sick of living life in a fat suit. I even made a declaration of my own right here on this blog, though mine was a liiiiiittle bit different than Butter’s declaration. I declared I would finally lose the weight. Like Butter, I felt that people didn’t look past my body to see the real me. I felt depressed, and as a result just kept eating… and the continued eating made me feel more depressed. It’s a vicious cycle, and Butter went through the EXACT. SAME. THING. Gosh. So yeah. This book really hit home for me.
So let’s talk about Butter. Butter often hid behind his online identity, even creating a fake persona online to talk to Anna, making her fall in love with “J.P.,” a fake person infused with bits of the real Butter. HELLO! Sad. Despite being funny, smart, and a talented and passionate saxophonist, Butter felt that no one would love him because of his size… and he was kind of right, which is a sad state of affairs. Sitting alone at lunch each day, eating a huge feast packed in a cooler by his loving and doting mom, Butter was so damn sad. He was such an interesting character though. Even though my heart was heavy the entire time I was reading about him, I didn’t really like him! I felt so much sympathy and understanding for him, but he was kind of an ass, which frustrated me at times. He pushed people away and copped such a bad attitude, seeming almost pretentious at times. While this irritated me, when I think about it, I can kind of understand where he was coming from. See, people in Butter’s position can generally go one of two ways: be meek and mild, getting walked all over, and crying all the time, OR growing a thick skin and trying to brush it all off, developing kind of a bad attitude as a result. I was always more of the first kind, I guess.
Anyways, enough about me and enough about Butter, the character. As far as the book itself goes, I really enjoyed it and flew through the pages really quickly. It was just so interesting to see Butter evolving and witness all the crazy things he was willing to do just to have some friends and hang with the in crowd. The novel’s depiction of the high school caste system was dead on, and the feelings associated with bullying, obesity, and loneliness were painfully accurate. I think all fans of contemporary YA fiction will enjoy this novel, but that those who’ve experienced bullying or weight issues will enjoy it even more as the story and Butter himself are incredibly relatable. I can’t wait to see what this author comes up with next, because honestly, this storyline is so unique and wonderful.
My Rating: 4.5/5