Book Review: Butter by Erin Jade Lange

Butter CoverBook: Butter by Erin Jade Lange

Published September 2012 by Bloomsbury|296 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

What It’s About:

A lonely obese boy everyone calls “Butter” is about to make history. He is going to eat himself to death-live on the Internet-and everyone is invited to watch. When he first makes the announcement online to his classmates, Butter expects pity, insults, and possibly sheer indifference. What he gets are morbid cheerleaders rallying around his deadly plan. Yet as their dark encouragement grows, it begins to feel a lot like popularity. And that feels good. But what happens when Butter reaches his suicide deadline? Can he live with the fallout if he doesn’t go through with his plans? 

With a deft hand, E.J. Lange allows readers to identify with both the bullies and the bullied in this all-consuming look at one teen’s battle with himself.

What I Thought: 

I was really intrigued by the idea of Butter- death by eating and everything that goes with announcing it online is definitely different- but overall, I feel really indifferent about the book.

I do think it’s an important read.  Butter- I can’t remember if his actual name is mentioned or not- has to deal with a family that seems pretty dysfunctional, and classmates that don’t think he’s really going to go through with it, until they realize he is.

It was really frustrating to see that his classmates never said anything (well, until the end).  I get they didn’t take it seriously, but it was even more frustrating to see them pay attention to him because of it.  His classmates even take bets on it, and it’s no wonder Butter feels like he has to go through with it.

I felt like Butter doesn’t really go into depth on any of the issues in the book.  There’s cyber-bullying, which comes up in the form of comments on Butter’s website, and while mentioned (we do see some comments and his mom brings it up, but at that point it’s glossed over and way too late), obesity and body image, and family issues, but all of it seemed glossed over and it doesn’t really go into any of those things.  And it’s not that there are too many issues in the book, because there really aren’t, but nothing really got the attention it deserved.

It’s interesting that Butter really isn’t bullied until he posts about his last meal.  I don’t know why but I assumed he’d be bullied a lot more than what we see in the book.  Don’t get me wrong, the comments people make are horrible and not okay, but I expected there to be more to it.

What I did like was that it’s about a boy who’s morbidly obese, and has a lot of health issues related to his weight.  I kind of wish it went a little bit more into how he sees himself, because it’s a nice change from all of the books out there that feature a teenage girl dealing with anorexia or bulimia.  There’s nothing wrong with books that deal with that, of course, but it is nice to see something different.

As for Butter’s actually suicide attempt and it’s aftermath…the book felt like it lost steam at that point.  He tries to kill himself by eating strawberries (which he’s allergic to), eating thousands upon thousands of calories and gives himself insulin, and ends up in the hospital, yet his primary doctor just wishes that Butter won’t put him in that position again (as Butter got the idea from his doctor by asking a few questions), his mom is magically going to change the family’s eating habits, Butter is making plans for his future, and who knows what his dad thinks because his dad seems to be there physically but not mentally or emotionally.  You don’t see any consequences for what happened in the book- maybe they happens after the book ends?  Still, after his attempt, everything else seemed really weak to me.

I get why there’s closure, but there is a part of me that wishes it ended with either his attempt or maybe a different chapter or two after that.  It’s what the book was building up to, and it did seem like a good ending point to me.

My Rating:

2 stars.  It does seem like I don’t like the book, and that I initially said I was indifferent but I just don’t care enough to actually dislike it.  I really like some of the issues that come up in the book, especially since it focuses on a teenage boy who’s struggling with his weight, and it’s definitely relevant and important.

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