Butter by Erin Lange - review

Butter is a morbidly obese 423-pound (30 stone) teenager who lives and goes to high school in Arizona. He knows everyone at his high school hate the sight of such an obese teenager (but perhaps not as much as he hates it himself) and after an incident in the cafeteria with the girl of his dreams and the school bully, Butter comes up with the idea to live stream his final meal on the Internet, for all to watch as he eats himself to death. Little did Butter know that it would make him incredibly popular within the school to the point where he can finally enjoy his life. But with the looming deadline, he knows it can't last – whether the other kids believe he'll follow through with the suicide or not.

The amount of tough themes that are tackled in this book is unbelievable. The book is written in the view as someone who is obese, in the first person, so as a reader you get to understand what Butter is feeling. Having no idea what it must be like to be obese, I personally loved this perspective of how someone so overweight must feel: embarrassed, pessimistic and lonely, in 'Butter's' case. As well as obesity, the book deals with bullying, social cliques and suicide. In an ultimately strange direction, Erin Lange managed to take on a totally unique form of bullying – where the bullies appear to be your friends but encourage you and pressure you into doing what you don't essentially want to be doing. In the case of Butter it was committing suicide on a live stream.

As Butter made the website for his last meal, the bullies became close to him so he felt like he had friends, and as if he was popular within the social clique he had so avidly admired throughout his high school career. But, what he increasingly became aware of, the gang he admired only wanted to spend time with him because it was 'something different' and he could be the gossip of the time.

The novel deals with suicide in a way which I truly support: anti-suicide. Many books for young adults are written with the intention of increasing suicide awareness and how the victim might feel, and although Erin Lange definitely covers how Butter feels, she also looks at how he could affect his family, friends, and how it might be too easy to blame anyone but yourself. It is so enlightening and fresh to read a story which has that side to it, rather than just the general awareness.

The book is written in the first person, and rather colloquially to be a convincing teen narrative, but still with formality. It's a way that is adopted by many young adult authors due to its popularity, and Erin Lange has succeeded in owning this style. Butter was also written to have mystery surrounding the ending. With such a certain theme throughout – suicide – you'd think it'd be easy to predict the ending, but Lange manages to keep Butter confused and unsure until the very end, so until the very end, you're not quite sure if he's going to go through with it.

Butter by Erin Lange is an extremely satisfying read. It is exciting, funny and intriguing, as well as deep and enlightening. Making you think about obesity, the different forms of bullying and suicide, Butter stays with you long after you've finished reading it.

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