You remember that book Dumplin’ that came out last year, with the overweight Texas girl who yeah, dealt with some issues because of her weight (as well as other unrelated problems), but overall felt good about herself and her place in the world? Yeah, this book is nothing like that.
“I hated thinking about death – not because I was afraid of it, but because, for some reason, every time I did, I felt this strange wave of sadness that death was actually so far off. Sometimes I wished it would just hurry up and get here. Morbid.”
Our narrator, who earned the nickname “Butter” after eating a stick of it (not by his own will, either) has been bullied or ignored for years due to his weight. Unlike the protagonist of Dumplin’, we know how much Butter weighs: upwards of 400 pounds, and getting heavier every day. His doctor chides him for not losing weight, as his diabetes worsens. His mother tries to fix it by…feeding him comfort food. And his father hasn’t spoken to him in months. Butter has two solaces in life: his saxophone, and his online relationship with a girl from school who doesn’t know his real identity.
After a particularly horrifying series of events, Butter decides to take matters into his own hands. He starts a website that proclaims he will “eat himself to death” on New Years Eve. The popular kids at school see it, and everything changes as they suddenly sweep him into their crowd — not as a friend, but as a mascot and sideshow. As the deadline looms, Butter tries to decide if he should do it or not — and how.
It’s a well-written, incredibly depressing book. Butter seems like a great kid — he’s bright, he’s talented, he’s friendly. But he’s limited by his weight in every aspect of his life, including having issues playing the sax because he can’t catch his breath. He has some people trying to help — a fellow fat camp kid, his very concerned band teacher, while others — his enabling mother, the horrible bullies at school — damage him in different ways. I enjoyed seeing him take control, but of course his method is horrifying. I can say that I rushed to reach the end, desperate to find out if he would be okay. But I’m not sure I really liked this one.