Erin Jade Lange’s “Butter” – a realistic fiction book that won’t let you look away

Butter by Erin Jade Lange; published 9/4/12; ISBN 9781599907802

cover from Erin Jade Lange's book, Butter

image courtesy Goodreads

“Butter” is a 423-lb. high school junior who loves listening to jazz, loves playing the saxophone, and is in love with fellow high school student, the beautiful Anna, with whom he IM’s every night (although she doesn’t know it’s him).

After one incident too many at school (and running into a fellow “fat camp” attendee who has lost weight doesn’t help his attitude), Butter decides to throw down a challenge: since no one wants him around, he’s going to eat himself to death on New Year’s Eve on a private webcast. The opening paragraph is his Declaration:

You think I eat a lot now? That’s nothing. Tune in December 31st, when I will stream a live webcast of my last meal. I can’t take another year in this fat suit, but I can end this year with a bang. If you can stomach it, you’re invited to watch…as I eat myself to death.   – Butter

Instead of showing concern, his classmates egg him on, offering ideas of foods he should eat and taking side-bets on the final menu while also inviting him to sit at the in-crowd table. With this newfound popularity, Butter begins re-thinking he New Year’s Eve promise, because now he has friends to hang out with, even if they are kind of jerks. But then what? Will they hate him for “wimping out” and he’ll again be an ignored nobody? Does he really want to go through with it? How will his parents react?

The story of how he got his name is heartbreakingly awful, and it’s what makes this book such a powerful anti-bullying treatise. Because of the intensity of some of the passages, recommended for grades 9+.

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