26 September 2012

My Thoughts on Erin Jade Lange, Butter

Click on the image to buy it from Powell'
I was rarely picked on at school. At a whopping 423 pounds, I was just that pathetic -- that pitiful. Most people couldn't bring themselves to be cruel to me...at least, not anymore. Sometimes I felt sorry for the kids who were just fat enough to be targets but not big enough for anyone to feel bad about taking aim.

I haven't read any YA for a while.  I go in and out of phases with YA.  Sometimes I can't get into it, and other times I can't stop reading it.  I think Butter may have sprung me back into the latter phase.

Butter is the story of a teenage kid, nicknamed Butter because of a humiliating incident of bullying early in his high school career.  Butter weighs 423 pounds, and Butter is planning to kill himself.  He is planning to eat himself to death on a live stream, and he is maintaining a website as he plans it.  What he finds, is that as he plans his demise, he becomes increasingly popular as his classmates morbidly get involved in his plan.  Because he plans to disappear, he becomes more visible than ever before.

From the description, Butter (the book) sounds extremely dark...and it is dark.  It is also humorous, and Butter (the character) is one of the most likeable characters that I've read recently.  The novel deals adeptly and sensitively with issues like bullying and teen suicide.  Butter's attitude towards ending his own life is reflective of the way many teens feel: deeply ambivalent and highly emotional.  His classmates, the popular kids and even the bullies, are rounded, not pure evil, mainly wrapped up in their own issues.  I was pleased with this book in its treatment of the subject matter.  It was complex while still acknowledging the seriousness of what was being presented. 

There have been a couple of  suicides over the past month at the high school in my small town, which has made it more difficult than I thought it would be to write this review.  Remembering being a teenager, and the wild emotions that come with that stage of life, it is deeply saddening to me that some people don't get the chance to feel the relief of adulthood. I feel ambivalent myself about the book in a way that I didn't upon reading it, just because of my own current sensitivities.  In the end, the message of the book is a good one, and I would recommend it for adult fans of YA lit and older teens. 

I'm also going to link here to the It Gets Better Project.  There are lots of organizations out there for anyone being bullied or considering suicide. This is just one. There is also a great post over at The Bloggess in honor of suicide prevention week, which was earlier this month.

Title: Butter
Author: Erin Jade Lange
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Date: 2012
Genre: YA, Contemporary

304  pages.
Where I got it: From the publisher, through Net Galley
 Challenges: None


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