Author: Erin Jade Lange
Date(s) read: January 9, 2013
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Library (Hardcover)
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.
When you see a book titled “Butter” that has a stick of butter on the cover and nothing else, you can’t help but be intrigued. From the minute I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. I don’t read a lot of bullying books, so I knew I had to jump at the chance.
I loved Butter, the main character. I couldn’t believe what he had to go through at school, or even at home. With his dad not even paying attention to him, most likely out of embarrassment or disappointment, and his mom trying to cure him with more food, you would think that he’d be able to find a safe haven at school. Unfortunately, that’s where the bullying takes place.
I think the reason I loved Butter as a character is because I could relate to him, being someone who does turn to food for comfort. It’s not something that you can just turn off, no matter how hard you try. People might think that to lose weight — in Butter’s case, he was over 400 pounds — but it’s not that easy. I can’t even imagine what it would be like being in public school and being bullied over something that is so hard to control.
But really, the weight thing isn’t the biggest issue in the book — it’s what Butter decides to do. To think that someone would put up the challenge of eating themself to death live on the internet is horrifying — but what’s even more horrifying is the response he gets from his peers. Suddenly he’s popular, but for all the wrong reasons. I wanted to reach through the book and call for help, I wanted to hug Butter and tell him that things will get better, and I wanted to throttle anyone who seemed to push him towards this unthinkable idea.
For a contemporary read, this one was so different from what I’m used to, but I thought that was a very good thing. It was nice to read someone out of the box, something as uncomfortable as this. I hope that people might read this and remember that sometimes something that seems innocent or fake might really be a cry for help.