It’s been way too long since I’ve read a book of fiction, so when I got Butter, I devoured it (hah) in one evening. This was not just because of my fiction-fast, but because the book is really good. I loved the themes of popularity desperation, the nuanced portrayal of bullying, and the dissection of eating disorders and obesity.
I don’t know if I’ve ever read a YA book from the perspective of an obese teenager. I liked that Butter was a typical teenage boy in a lot of ways – crushing on the cute girl, making friends at summer camp, desperate for attention. I also liked that he’s a saxophone player (like I was!), and that his musical talent is central to the plot. Butter’s relationship with the kids at school is where the big drama is, but we also get to see the way his obesity affects his family, his teachers, and his doctors. Lange doesn’t blame Butter for his weight, but she also doesn’t hold back from showing the consequences of being young and overweight.
I can see this book being hugely influential for those who read it. There has been an uptick in discussion on fat shaming culturally, and I hope books like Butter encourage readers to be empathetic toward overweight people. And I hope it encourages readers who are overweight, that they will feel understood, validated, and inspired.
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.
Release Date: September 2012