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.

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