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.
Author: Erin Jade Lange
Length: 294 pages
If I had to describe Butter in one word, it would probably be gripping. The concept of committing suicide while people watch is horrifying, but it’s like car-crash TV – you’ll find yourself both desperate and terrified to find out if he’ll really go through with it. I absolutely raced through this one because I couldn’t bear to wait any longer to see how it ended.
Butter is not half a stone or a stone overweight. He’s not even four or five stone overweight. At around 30 stone, there are no more tactful terms – the phrases ‘big boned’, ‘curvy’, ‘voluptuous’ etc can only go so far. Miserably unhappy, Butter is mostly just ignored. There is some absolutely sickening, cruel bullying, but most people don’t even acknowledge him. The only person he really connects with is Anna, who he’s been talking to online under an alias. She has no idea who he is, and his fixation on her – both online and at school – is slightly creepy. However, he’s so miserably lonely you can understand his desperation to connect, so it does help to make him seem more sympathetic.
I loved Butter as a character. He’s very funny, extremely talented musically and I desperately wanted everything to work out for him. Although occasionally abrasive and often pushing people away, he was utterly believable; the sort of character you can almost hear in your head as you read. Driven by loneliness, anger and pain, Butter announces his plan to eat himself to death on webcam. Impulsive, reckless, and almost a final ‘fuck you’ to all the kids who never noticed him, Butter’s plan is pretty much insane. Though the concept intrigued me enough to request Butter, I couldn’t quite understand what could drive him to such desperation. Having read the book, I’ll say only that it didn’t feel like anywhere near as much of a stretch as I expected it to.
After Butter announces his plan – expecting insults, pity, or maybe just more indifference – his world is thrown into chaos. His website and plan spread around school, and suddenly it’s all anyone can talk about. His website is flooded with comments giving him suggestions for what to eat as his last meal, and everyone has an opinion on whether or not he’ll really go through with it. Butter is thrust into a world he’s previously only dreamed of; invited to parties, to go bowling, to hang out with people who previously ignored him. When he realises that his new-found popularity is completely dependent on his suicide (at which point it will be moot) Butter has to decide whether to go through with his plan, or back out – going back to aching loneliness and bullying from the people he ‘let down’.
With two clear possible endings, E.J. Lange could never satisfy everyone, no matter which way she went. I personally liked the ending, though towards the end I felt it got a little bit lecture-like. Touching on obesity, bullying, loneliness and suicide, Butter is a fantastic read that will stick with you after reading. Although you may not be a 30 stone lonely teenage boy contemplating suicide, you can’t help but sympathise with Butter, and that’s what makes this such a great book. Butter may be an extreme example, but his problems are ones every one of us has faced. If you’ve ever felt jealous over someone’s buzzing social life, looked in the mirror and not liked what you saw, sneaked an extra cookie and hoped no one would notice or just felt lonely (and who hasn’t done at least one of those?!), you will definitely connect with Butter.
Buy it? At 99p on Kindle, this is a must buy.
In a nutshell: A favourite this year; thought-provoking, heart-breaking and utterly gripping.