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Butter by Erin Jade Lange Book Review

Book: Butter by Erin Jade Lang, Bloomsbury, On Sale Now

Book Info: YA Contemporary, ARC via NetGalley, Hardcover 316 pages

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

More Info:  Goodreads | Amazon

High school student “Butter” is a lonely obese guy who can’t get out of the over-eating cycle. He needs to lose weight for his health but lacks the support at home and motivation to stick to the plan. Butter is usually ignored at school but has also been a bully target at times. After a particularly bad day, Butter’s thoughts turn to self-harm and he determines to eat himself to death live via webcam on New Years Eve. He announces his plan on his website and is startled to find his classmates embrace the idea and encourage him with comments, invitations to parties, last meal suggestions, and friendship. But if they are his friends, how can they let Butter go through with his plans?

The premise is so morbid that I was worried I’d be able to get through this one. But the writing is so compelling I had to keep reading to see how it all turns out.  It’s hard to read about Butter’s depression and his treatment at school, but there have been stories similar to Butter’s on the news unfortunately. Though many of them make mistakes along the way, the adults and kids in the story are not all good or all bad and makes you think about how you’d handle the situation if it happened to you.

One thing that makes this read a little easier to digest is that Butter has a great sense of humor. He wants people to see past his appearance and get to know the real him. He’s a nice guy, clever and talented – he’s a gifted saxophone player and the band teacher really wants him to join their music group, but he doesn’t want to put himself out there that way. One person who does like him (personality-wise) is a girl he chats with online anonymously. She is a popular girl at school named Anna and doesn’t give him the time of day there. But, she falls for him online and wants to meet face to face, something Butter of course is reluctant to do.

The subject matter is intense and hard to read at times and brings feelings of anger at the people in Butter’s life and at Butter himself too for letting the situation get so out of control. The whole situation really makes you think and would make for a great book club discussion. The bullying, depression and eating disorder topics are relevant to today and should resonate well with readers of realistic fiction. Erin Jade Lang writes a powerful book with strong characters and a great message.

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Posted on September 10, 2012, in 100 Books in a year reading challenge, 4 stars, ARC, Contemporary, Read 2012, Realistic Fiction, Reviews, Young Adult and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I wanted to read this when I first heard about it too but like you I worried about how horrible this might turn out. The fact that it kept you reading and that Butter sounds like an awesome kid mean that I now know I need to read this!

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  2. I was thinking that sounded like a story that could have been plucked from the headlines. I’m glad to see it’s well done. It sounds like a book high school classes could study.

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  3. i have been seeing this book around but it does look really hard to read. i am glad you liked i though. i think i would have to be in the right mood to read it.

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  4. This breaks my heart. I know this is the story of so many youth today. I hope there was a somewhat happy ending. I’ll have to look for this one & sandwich it between 2 feel good books.

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  5. My gosh, I had no idea what this book was about. It sounds fascinating and while painful at parts, I’m glad to hear Butter has a sense of humor. Did you read/listen to The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin? I am wondering if the voice is sort of similar to that. Anyway, I had no clue about this book/what it was all about until your review and now I am reading it for sure.

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    • It really is a fascinating character study and a story you don’t often read about. The sense of humor definitely helps. I haven’t checked out The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin, but I just read the synopsis and I can see how you thought of that one. I hope you enjoy Butter when you get the chance to read it! I’ll look for your review.

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  6. I hadn’t heard about this one, but I’m definitely intrigued now! I can see why the subject matter would, at points, make it very hard to read . . . but Butter sounds like a very interesting character. And, of course, I would be hoping for a happy ending.

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