Butter by Erin Jade Lange
Published by Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Publish Date: September 4, 2012
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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? –(summary from Goodreads)
My Thoughts: It took me forever to decide whether or not I wanted to read this book. I read one other blog post about it and even just reading that post, I was all clinchy and uncomfortable – but that is because I’m all weird about these issue books. With 2012 being my own personal year of contemporary, and more recently with my effort of reading more issue books, I decided that I was going to tackle this one.
Butter is insecure about most everything. When something bothers him, he eats. Occasionally, he’ll gather up some gumption and decide to lose weight, but this usually only last a short while before he’s back at the big meals and snacks again. When Butter notices that his only friend – who is also overweight – has started dropping pounds and getting healthy, Butter starts eating. A lot. He gets a little angry. He can’t help it. He feels betrayed. Then, to top everything off, he finds out that he is being bullied online. This is when he sets up a website and decides to eat himself to death and broadcast it for everyone to watch – if they can stand to watch it. He makes his announcement.
While he isn’t really sure what he was expecting the outcome of his announcement to actually be, Butter cannot believe what happens after he posts his declaration: Butter becomes an overnight sensation, a sudden popular guy. For the first time, Butter is accepted. He is talked to in the hallways and invited to hang out after school and during lunch. First, he feels anger. Why isn’t someone helping me if they know I’m going to kill myself? Why are they excited? Then he feels kind of cocky about it. Heck yeah, I’m awesome. Nobody else has the guts to do what I’m about to do! Then he feels fear. Oh no! What if I can’t go through with it? Will everyone still think I’m cool?
Erin Jade Lange takes on topics like obesity and gives both the perspective of the obese person and the people around the obese person, which is awesome and kind of brave, really. She takes on bullying in the same way: We get Butter’s perspective and we get the perspective of the bullies. Why is this notable to me? Because Butter is the one telling the story. He tells us his own story so well that we can see it from his eyes as well as the eyes of those around him. That’s pretty good stuff right there.
It’s really interesting, too, that I liked this book so much without being able to connect with Butter. I mean, I am not like him at all. No, I am not stick-skinny, but I am not emotionally like him either. So I really could not get into his head and feel what he was feeling. But this author still made me feel for him and concerned for him and interested in him and what was going on in his world. I wanted him to STOP his plans and rethink things and reconsider his thoughts and get active and join some social clubs at school or DO ANYTHING to be healthy – normally if I cannot connect with a character at all in a contemporary setting, I am not really invested in them. I was invested in Butter to the point that I could feel it in my chest at times.
I’m not sure if my rambles are doing Butter by Erin Jade Lange appropriate justice. For an issue-heavy contemporary book, it is incredibly interesting and gripping. The tension I felt while I read it was just the right amount. I liked Butter as a character, which is amazing given that he is a person that I could not connect to at all – and he shows growth, which is always good. I loved seeing the varying perspectives this author put in the book even though I cringed at some of it.
Butter is a fantastic book for reading and thinking outside of the box. It gives a voice to a certain group of people, and it does it well. I recommend Butter for people that enjoy reading issue-heavy contemporary YA and people who like male leading characters.
YA Contemporary with Issues
Butterby Erin Jade Lange