Butter by Erin Jade Lange
A boy in his junior year of high school in Scottsdale, Arizona, gets practically straight A’s and plays the saxophone with incredible talent but suffers from morbid obesity. His mother calls him Baby, his father has stopped speaking to him out of despair and the students at school call him Butter. School and internet legend say he got his nickname from eating a tub of butter, but Butter tells the truth of an incident of cruelty right before his freshman year when the name originated. Butter chats online with Anna, a girl from school on whom he has a crush, using the name Saxman. He composes and records a sax solo he names “Anna’s song,” and sends it to her, but persuades her it’s more mysterious not to send each other their pictures or real names. An embarrassing incident at school and a hurtful post on a school-related list push Butter to start a website entitled “butterslastmeal”, announcing he will commit suicide on New Year’s Eve by eating himself to death. Suddenly boys at school who have ignored, tormented and bullied him since 9th grade pay positive attention to him and other students treat him kindly. Butter realizes his new popularity stems from his suicide plan, and faces decision of whether to follow through.
The narrator’s voice is totally realistic and believable, as are the students at his school. Readers will be engaged in his life and pull for him to find a way out of his problems. Although the book deals with the topic of weight, it could easily be about any issues of physical appearance and social stratification in high school. I recommend it for all high school students, girls and boys, for its unblinking look at bullying, a topic at the center of many conversations about school and social networking.
Reveiw by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson