Book Review: Butter by Erin Jade Lange
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?
The premise of this novel sucked me in right away. I guess in that respect I’m not much better than the people who torment Butter. I, too, had to find out if he was going to go through with his plot or not. This was such a fascinating book to read because the characters are so complex. Obviously coming up with a plan to kill yourself is bad, and it’s horrible that people encouraged him to do it and made a game out of it, but at the same time the popular kids in this book were just sort of, well, likeable eventually. Obviously I don’t like the way they treated Butter before he became a celebrity (or after, for that matter), but I could see why people like them, and I could understand why Butter wanted to hang out with them. I can also understand why he starts to feel like he has to go through with his promise to kill himself. (Don’t worry – you’ll have to read for yourself to find out if he actually does or not).
I definitely saw a lot of myself in Butter. Not necessarily the suicidal part, but the lonely, insecure part that wants to change but doesn’t really know how and blames the world for everything and doesn’t want to risk being rejected, so he never really puts himself out there. I can’t help but wonder what Butter’s life would have been like before this point had he just acted like himself and not been so afraid of rejection, which was undoubtedly one of the issues that the author was trying to bring up. Or at least that’s what I took from this.
Weight issues in novels is always a touchy subject. In fact, there was just a discussion here a few days ago about it. I liked the way it was handled in this book. There were talks about Butter losing weight, but that wasn’t the main point. Also, it addresses the fact that many people commented on, which was this: losing weight doesn’t suddenly make everything better. As Butter’s story shows, what’s in your head matters a lot more than what’s on the outside, and until you’re ready to accept yourself and start seeing the world in a different way, it doesn’t really matter what the scale says.
This was a very interesting novel to read. The voice is so clear, and I couldn’t help but keep reading, even when what I was reading was disgusting me (often for different reasons).