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Butter, by Erin Jade Lange

January 29, 2014

ButterButter is about a 400-pound sixteen-year-old who decides he’s had enough of being bullied. He’s going to commit suicide in front of his whole school… by eating himself to death. Naturally, you’d think that would make for a dark book. It’s not. It’s as feel-good as a warm stick of butter in the oven.

The good part of the book is that it has its own Catch-22: the kids at school are fascinated by his plan. If Butter goes through with his suicide, he’ll be popular. But if he’s popular, he’ll want to live. However, if he lives, everyone hates him for not doing it. He constantly changes his mind. This is well—illustrated with a suicide list shown on the start of some chapters. The list begins with massive amounts cake, hot dogs, and soda, among others. As suggestions are made, he adds strawberries and onions. But eventually, he takes away the hot dogs and soda, when he second—guesses himself as he’s becoming popular. If the book was more of this, I would have liked it more.

The book begins with title character “Butter” taking to a girl in a chatroom. He really likes her. He doesn’t confess who he is though, and plays a song on his saxophone he wrote for her. He has the attitude of millions of other teenagers, so even though he hates everything, he’s no Holden Caulfield. Butter is still sarcastic even though he’s going to die within a few months. However, Butter is committing suicide. So even though the voice of a teenager is well—captured, it does not evoke sad emotions in the reader.

Butter could have been a new look at life (and death). It could have been the next great novel for America. It could have been even remotely enjoyable. But Butter‘s shortcomings in tone, plot and dialogue hold it back. So in the end, Butter is no different than any other kid in any other book in the Contemporary Realistic Fiction section of the library. If Butter had more realistic emotions, I may have loved this book. But he doesn’t. So this book is going in the “disappointing” section of my mental bookshelf, along with the rating of four out of ten.


Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers, 296 pages

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