Friday, November 23, 2012

Butter by Erin Jade Lange

When I first heard of this book it sounded interesting, but I wasn't sure if I really wanted to read it. The premise made me cringe - a teen boy named Butter plans to broadcast himself on the web eating until he dies. The very thought of it makes me uneasy (and a bit queasy). The author handles the subject with all seriousness, and it is much more about the struggles of an overweight teen with issues.

One of the questions throughout the story is whether Butter will go through with it. His classmates were asking and so was I (of course, I was't placing bets on it). One of Butter's dilemmas is that his plan to end his life has made him more popular and accepted than he has ever been. He is invited to hang out with the cool kids at lunch and at parties. But they don't really like him, Butter's pretty sure of that. Still, the attention is intoxicating.

Butter has actual contact with Anna. He has been chatting with he for months pretending to be a jock from another school named J.P. He constantly puts off sending her a picture of himself or arranging a meeting. Now as part of the popular circle, Butter actually gets to talk to Anna in person (but as himself and not the fake online persona). It is no coincidence that he chooses New Year's Eve as the night to eat himself to and meet Anna face to face as J.P.

His mother is doting, his dad distant and his friend from weight loss camp is actually losing weight. Other than playing his saxophone (which he mostly keeps to himself), Butter really feels like he has nothing to lose when the time comes. Even the name 'butter' originated in a horrible bullying experience.

I was struck by Butter's rationalization for his plan. It's a terrible struggle we experience along with Butter. He can't even see for himself the worth he has and the possibilities of a future. He writes off the loss others will feel thinking that it will actually be better since they won't have to worry about him anymore.

This is an amazing story - certainly not for everyone, but well worth a look.

For more info, check out the Evergreen library catalog and the author's site.

Monday, November 19, 2012

My Life in Black and White by Natasha Friend

I have very crooked teeth. You will find few pictures of me smiling with my teeth showing, particularly when I was younger. I was ashamed of them. I could keep them mostly hidden if I kept my mouth closed. As much as physical appearance should not define who we are, it is an unavoidable fact that we are shaped by our outside and how it is perceived. I know my crooked teeth has affected who I am today.

For most of (soon to be sophomore) Lexi's life, she has been told how beautiful she is. Her mom hovers over her concerned about her boyfriends, her clothes and school dances. She dreams that Lexi could be a model. Even though Lexi has not let it go to her head, her beauty has certainly affected every aspect of her life from the way her friends feel about her (even if they don't express it) to her relationship with her older sister to the very types of food her mom allows her to eat. Lexi leads what many would call a charmed life.

And then it all goes away. At a late summer party, Lexi is in a car accident that scars her face forever. One small change that night might have spared Lexi the alteration of her face, but it was not to be. In addition to losing part of her face, she also lost her best friend Taylor and her boyfriend Ryan. They did not die in the accident, but caused Lexi to get so angry that she got in the car that night to leave the party.

So Lexi, who has been so defined by her looks, now hides her face behind hoods. Lexi feels like a freak. She says she will never forgive Taylor or Ryan for what they did. She cannot deal with her circle of friends who still hang out with Taylor. The rumors spread about what really happened that night.

At home, Lexi gets no slack from her sister who just wants Lexi to move on with her life. Her mother tries to pretend like Lexi's life has not changed - picking out dresses for dances and hoping that Ryan and Lexi can patch things up.

I sympathized with Lexi and her desire to never forgive her former friends. I felt for her when those around her failed to understand how difficult life had become. But there is also truth in what Lexi's sister says, too. Lexi must figure out how to adapt to all the changes in life. It was an interesting trip to take with Lexi as she healed, found her true inner self and discovered that beauty is more than just a perfect face.  

For more info, check out the Evergreen catalog and the author's site.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Eve & Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate

I was reading another book when this one came into my hands. I was just going to glance at the first page, but I continued to read. I cannot read more than one fiction book at a time, so I abandoned my other book and kept on reading this one.

Eve's mother is the incredibly wealthy and successful head of Spiker Biopharmaceuticals, a medical research company. We meet Eve just as she has be struck by a streetcar and had her leg severed and her arm crushed. She arrives at the hospital and receives treatment only to be taken away by her mother to the headquarters of her company.

In all the chaos, Eve meets Solo. He is there with her in the hospital, the ambulance and her new room. Is Solo her mother's intern? He's certainly too young to be a doctor. Is he some kind of genius? Whoever he is, Eve finds him annoying.

Solo, on the other hand, finds Eve intriguing. Yes, she is the boss's daughter, but she is so different than he imagined, so different from her mother who he despises. Solo lives at Spiker headquarters. He does odd jobs here and there, but basically has no significant responsibilities. That doesn't mean he is unintelligent. Solo has spent his free time exploring the whole building - finding all the exits, empty rooms and security cameras. At the right moment, he plans to expose all the questionable activities done by the company.

To keep Eve occupied, Eve's mother gives her a project - build the perfect boy. Using a sophisticated software program, Eve sets out to design Adam. Eve's best friend, Aislin, helps out (when she is reluctantly allowed to visit - Eve's mother hates Aislin calling her a 'drunken slut'). Even though Aislin's boyfriend is a drug dealer, Eve needs her best friend and helps her when she can.

There is much to ponder as the story unfolds: Why is Solo allowed to live in the facility? What illegal research is being done by the company? What is the purpose of making a fake perfect boy?

Some intrigue, some romance and a little sci-fi thrown in. Even though I was a little disappointed in the ending, it is an interesting concept. I hope the author's collaborate more.

For more info about this book, check out the Evergreen catalog.