Monday, September 17, 2012

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?

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.
Butter is one of those books that called to me. The cover and title intrigued me and so I had to see what it was about. When I read the synopsis I went back and forth between, “would this be completely incredible and possibly very depressing” or “would it just be too much”? I decided to brave the fear of it being too much and sallied forth.

Personally, I wouldn’t have called this a “depressing book”, it’s rather morbid, but the underlying theme takes more of a look at modern bullying and the “mob mentality”. Here’s the ugly truth. I, for one, could totally see this happening in a high school today. So much so that I found my mind placing myself in that school, wondering if I would be the one to tattle on the whole situation. Short, truthful answer, no. I don’t think I was strong enough in high school to be that person. And as for the watching, would I have watched? It doesn’t sit well with me that I don’t really know. In a world where reality shows based on disorders and fear are king, you gotta wonder if some version of this wouldn’t make a fall line-up on some channel.

Butter, as a character, is unique. He’s not exactly your upstanding and honest hero but more of a boy who is severely depressed and trying (and failing a lot) to get out of it. You can also bet that he doesn’t have a lot of friends and ergo there a crushing sense of loneliness mixed into that. That makes him kind of an all-or-nothing kind of guy. Either he’s okay and even optimistic, but if one little thing tips the scale, then bam! Downward spiral, eating everything on the way to soothe the pain. It’s called emotional eating and Lange portrays it with scary accuracy. All-in-all, he is a tragically flawed character that you want to see overcome his problems, but wonder if he actually can.

If you’re looking for a light and airy contemporary, this is not it. But if you’re looking for something that will make you laugh, make you gag, make you shudder, make you really, really think and make you wonder about society around you, this is your book.

Similar recommendations: Going Underground by Susan Vaught, Willow by Julia Hoban, and Compulsion by Heidi Ayarbe.

1 comment:

  1. Super fabulous review, Jennifer. I think I really felt just about the same as you. For some whacked out reason I dig the raw and gritty stories. I suppose it just makes you think about life more.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with all of us! You rock.