Butter by Erin Jade Lange provided a new way to view online bullying and childhood obesity.
Butter is a big boy…and I mean BIG. I know that’s supposed to make the reader feel empathic and sad and all, but I really just couldn’t find the sympathy. Butter’s weight issues actually kind of pissed me off and got my blood boiling.
The opening scene is of him pigging out on a shit ton of junk food, and then seeing a story on the news about how airlines are going to start charging obese people for two tickets, since they take up more than just one seat. This upsets Butter, and he goes into a pouty fit and puts down the food, running up to his room to do the one thing (other than eating) that brings him joy…play his saxophone.
But in almost the next paragraph he says how he won’t keep his resolve to not eat crap food because it’ll never work and he’ll always be fat, blah blah blah. And how his mother is an enabler (and I’m not saying that she isn’t) and it’s her fault he’s so fat and his dad’s fault for ignoring him.
“Mom’s mouth twitched in a sad smile, but she didn’t say anything. Somewhere around the time I turned eleven, she’d stopped talking to me about food or exercise or anything to do with my weight. And the bigger I grew, the more she pretended not to see it. I used to think she was embarrassed by me, but I eventually figured out she just felt guilty—like she was a bad mother for letting me get so big.”
Again, I know this kid being ginormous and not having any friends is supposed to make me feel sorry for him, but the book just infuriated me more than anything. He just gorges himself on food and whines about being fat. It literally just made me yell inside my head, “STOP EATING ENOUGH FOOD FOR 10 PEOPLE IN ONE SITTING AND GO EXERCISE! DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!”
You may think I’m a horrible person for thinking this, but seriously, self pity and laziness will get you nowhere and one of my biggest pet peeves is people making excuses for their own crappy decisions. Grow a pair, own up to your mistakes, and be proactive to change!
And Butter didn’t even try to make any friends at school. He just hid away in the corners (well as much as a giant kid can hide).
“I was rarely picked on at school. At a whopping 423 pounds, I was just that pathetic—that pitiful. Most people couldn’t bring themselves to be cruel to me.”
And even worse, he uses his own self loathing and eating habits to punish his parents (and I’m not saying his parents are completely blame-free with his condition, but blaming them for your own crappy state is so not the way to go about it…that won’t solve anyone’s problems).
“The food didn’t taste as good without an audience. If I had to be the one to carry the weight, it was only fair that they be forced to watch.”
So after humiliating himself at school one day, Butter comes home all upset and sees that people have made a list of “most-likelys” from his school. He’s listed as “most likely to die from a heart attack” and next to the prediction is a picture of him stuffing his face in the cafeteria.
What happens next? Does he decide to prove those kids wrong and start living a healthier life by exercising and watching what he eats? NO! Of course he doesn’t…he decides he’s going to kill himself online (so everyone can see it) at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. How is he going to do this? By eating himself to death. One last meal for the fat kid.
“I couldn’t control the kids at school. I couldn’t control my parents or my weight or my life…but I could command the conversation online. I could make sure the only things people said about me in cyberspace were the things I invited them to say. And if I could control that, then that would be all that mattered.”
The website Butter created in a moment of anger goes viral around the school, and before he knows it everyone wants to talk to him, the most popular guys in school want him to sit at their table and hang out with them on the weekends. But not because they truly like Butter as a person—it’s because they are morbidly obsessed with his suicide mission. They want to discuss things like menu of everything he’s going eat for his last meal.
The sick thing is, Butter likes the attention—even if it’s for all the wrong reasons. All he ever really wanted was attention, but he goes about it in the most cowardly way. Instead of trying to win everyone over with his insanely good sax-playing skills, or his kind heartedness, or his brains, or with humor, he gets their attention with his suicide plans.
The “protagonist” (I use this term as loosely as I can) is nothing but a whiny coward. If he wouldn’t have had his panties in a bunch in the first place and hung out in the corners, like a dog with his tail between his legs, and have actually put himself out there and TRIED to make friends, he wouldn’t have had to resort to such ridiculous antics to get attention.
Some of you may think I’m a complete bitch (and I’m not denying that fact), but all the spineless bullshit just irked me. I get that high school sucks (everyone is insecure in high school and anyone who says otherwise is lying), but you put on your big girl (or boy) panties and get through it. Don’t just throw a fucking tantrum.
This book was a quick read…I got through it in a few hours, and if people making excuses for their all of their problems doesn’t completely piss you off (like it does me), then you will probably enjoy this book. It does address issues like social media bullying and depression. So even though this novel pissed me off, I give it 4 out of 5 stars.