I tend to avoid books about bullying or depression. Not because I don’t think they are good; many of them are. When reading a book like that (especially a good one), I tend to absorb all those negative feelings. Well, who likes to feel sad, right? However, when I stumbled upon Butter on NetGalley, my first instinct was to read it, surprisingly. Even more unexpectedly, I read it right away instead of letting it sit on Kindle for weeks on end. Butter’s story interested me because of how morbid, yet somehow believable, it all seemed to be.
Butter is about an obese teenager who decides to eat himself to death live on the Internet. It’s a book that isn’t too easy to swallow. (No pun intended… actually it was tad bit intended.) Butter, a nickname that he never could shake off, hardly has any friends, has been bullied and looked at in disdain because of his size. He finally becomes so fed-up with himself that he decides on this suicidal plan. However, once initiated, he never imagined the kind of response he would get. His fellow classmates start cheering him on, befriending and supporting Butter and his mission to eat himself dead. Finally, Butter is getting the acknowledgement that he has always wanted, and now he doesn’t want to die anymore. But if he doesn’t go through with it, he’ll lose all his new friends and popularity.
If you choose to skip out on the book because 1. You can’t personally relate to weight issues or 2. You believe that you generally can’t empathize with an obese person, then you are missing the point. This isn’t a story about being fat. It’s a story about being different and feeling insecure because of that difference. And if you can say that you’ve never felt insecure, keep enjoying your ride down the Nile.
Anyway, Butter has been fat his whole life, but he’s tried losing it by dieting, going to fat camp, etc. There were moments where it was working for him but other people and his own insecurities shot him down in some way or fashion. As someone who dealt with weight issues for a long time, I instantly related to this. The fact that I could relate to some of Butter’s feelings so well, shows how authentic of a voice the author created in Butter. He feels real. So real, that his feeling and pain comes across very distinctly. He doesn’t ask for a pity party, and he’s so adamant about it that when I started to feel bad for him, I snapped myself out of it. As the story moves along and gets closer and closer to Butter’s suicide, it becomes a real page turner.
The morbid encouragement from his so-called new friends is saddest thing of all to read. The fact that people would root for someone to kill themselves is beyond pathetic. What is even worse is that I can actually imagine that happening in real life. People are mean, and despite what the movies and some books say, mean people don’t get these big redemption arcs in real life. I’m happy the author doesn’t redeem any of the bad characters or even Butter’s harmful actions and decisions. In turn, I liked how it juxtaposed against the people who have always positively supported Butter in his life because there were quite a few. Butter feels so bad about himself that he takes the wrong people seriously. He has positive encouragement in his life, and it was interesting to see how he reacted to it, especially since it sort of mirrored how I used to react to such motivation as a teenager.
Butter is a great story with an interesting, if morbid, concept and an authentic lead character. It gets you thinking, not just of yourself, but of anyone else that you may have encountered in the past or present. Even if you’re like me, and as mentioned, I don’t typically read stories about bullying or depression, Butter is still not a book to avoid or pass up. I forgot that when reading these kinds of books (especially the good ones) is how much I learn about people and the way they think. In the end, these books alter the way I see things for the better. Butter effectively does that and more.
Rating: 9/10 ★★★★★★★★★
Butter by Erin Jade Lange releases September 18th. You can pre-order Butter at our TYF Store, powered by Amazon.
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books (September 18, 2012)
- Length: 304 pages, Hardcover
- Series: N/A
- Source: NetGalley
- Genre: Young Adult, Obesity, Bullying, Social Issues
- Completed: July 2012