“Butter”—A Book Review/Rant

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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.

“Before You Go” –A Book Review

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Before You Go by James Preller, is a quick, but profound read. At 208 pages, I made it through this book in a few hours, but don’t let the size fool you about its might (pun not intended).

The summer before Jude’s senior year in high school, he takes a crappy summer job on the boardwalk flipping burgers. But anything is better than being stuck inside the house all day with an emotionally unavailable, pill-popping mother.

His little sister drowned in the backyard swimming pool seven years ago, when Jude was supposed to be watching her, and he has never been able to let go of the guilt. But the thing is, Jude was just a kid himself. Ever since that catastrophic summer, the only person Jude has ever really opened up to is his best friend, Corey.

When Becka starts working at the beachside concession stand with him, he is immediately enthralled by her. Because of how closed off Jude is, he keeps Becka at a safe distance, while somehow managing to pull her in at the same time. With the encouragement of his best friend and co-worker, Jude finally decides to go for it with Becka, and learning that they both play guitar and are passionate about the same music, it doesn’t take long for these two teens to hit it off.

But as it often does with life, just when things begin to look up, tragedy strikes again. As Jude struggles to stay afloat, he must decide if letting yourself love someone is worth the risk of a broken heart.

All in all I would have to give this book 3 ½ out of 5 stars. The narration was a bit weak at times, but I believe this book is worth the read. It doesn’t take long to finish, and the overall messages you take away will resonate within your heart. James Preller had me analyzing the important things in my life and asking myself, “Is it worth the risks?”

 

”Jude couldn’t locate the name for this feeling, the string of a child’s helium balloon slipping through his fingers, this sense of floating skyward, knew only a boy’s confusion and thrill and desire, the heart’s thrup and thrum. Kiss me again and again until all the stars crowd the sky like scattered salt on black rock. He pressed into her again, his heart on her lips.”