Butter, a YA contemporary by Erin Jade Lange.
The Story- Butter is the nickname of a high school student who weighs over 400 pounds. He loves to play the sax, though not in front of people, and lives with his enabling mom and disconnected dad.
The story starts out with Butter deciding to make a website called, butterslastmeal.com. On New Year’s Eve, Butter plans to eat himself to death, with his high school watching online.
At first he isn’t sure if he really meant to do the announcement, but then the popular kids in school begin to take notice of him and Butter becomes an instant sensation. Butter gets wrapped up in the feeling of being popular, and continues to egg people on by adding food items to his “last meal” list.
What will Butter do? He knows kids only like him because they think he’s going to die. But, can he give up the brief popularity and the first chance that he’s had at getting to know Anna, his secret crush.
My Thoughts- This is a deeply moving book that delves into not only the problem of obesity, but also into peer pressure and the need to fit in. At first I was wary, how would this book work with all these kids pressuring Butter to kill himself? But, the author does an amazing job separating out the characters and developing Butter’s own individuality.
The side characters are all two faced. The kids we meet in the book are friendly, inviting Butter to events, sharing their lunch table, introducing him around school. They seem like great friends. It is only on Butter’s website that we see the sickness that is the real them as they offer Butter last meal suggestions. Sure, some of the kids think it is a joke, but some think it might be true. How sick!
There is so much depth to Butter. He is an amazing character. He is talented musically, able to play at nightclub level. He is kind and has a desperate crush on Anna, who he talks online with, under the handle, “saxman”. As a reader, you really go through this journey with him, and his choices are gut wrenching.
I did not know whether Butter would go through with his desperate plan, and that I think is one of the main themes of the book. As we get to know Butter, will he really do it? And what about Anna? If she finds out her “saxman” is really Butter, what will she do?
I really feel this is a good read for every teenager out there. It is a compelling story that builds and builds. You don’t want to put it down. It is also a story that is relatable. How many of us know someone or is someone that doesn’t fit in, for one reason or another? This book takes a deep look into the teenage world of popularity and pressure, and ends with some questions that will make you re-evaluate yourself.