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Butter - Erin Jade Lange

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Hardcover: 296 pages / Publisher: Bloomsbury / Published: 4 Sep 2012

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      16.03.2013 08:23
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      A bullied child with suicidal intentions should not make for easy reading

      Bullied by his classmates at school, harassed by his parents at home, and weighing over 400 lbs, Butter really has very little to keep living for. And so he decides to stop. Living, that is. But he's not going to throw his not unsubstantial frame under a bus, or jump off a cliff. He's going to do what he does best - eat.

      As suicide plans go it may be one of the more creative ones out there. He sets up a website Butter's Last Meal to spread the word because if he's going to leave this world, he's going to do it with a bang...and a thud...live online while people watch.

      This is an inventive, at times painful and at times funny and sweet story about a bullied boy fighting back. Always a loner at school up until this point, Butter magically discovers what it's like to be popular as the other kids latch on to his plan and suddenly want to know more about this interesting character they've ignored until now, suddenly want to spend time with him, get to know him. Spurred on by the doubters, motivated yet more by the haters, Butter's plan gathers force as we speed towards New Year's Eve, the day he will eat himself to death in one fell swoop.

      There are lots of ways to interpret Butter's actions. This could be a cry for help or simply an attention seeking ploy (and it works...he does get lots and lots of attention). It's hard to know whether he intends to go with through with it, and of course if he does it's hard to know whether it will work (can you actually die from just one, albeit massive, meal? Well...throw in some allergens and alcohol, and mess up a diabetic's insulin and it could work, I guess). The book keeps you guessing right until the end, but in a morbid, car-crash way you can't stop reading because you really need to know how it will all end, for Butter and for the kids at school who have taunted him and tormented him until he feels there's no other way out.

      This book shouldn't be amusing - it's about major bullying, and suicide plans - but it is because of Butter who is such a sweet, if damaged, narrator, that you have to laugh with him (not at him, definitely with him). At the same time it's real and thought-provoking and it gives a realistic view of high school life where if you can't fit in, can't demand attention, you're nobody.

      I highly recommend this story for all of the above reasons. It's an easy read, suitable for it's original Young Adult market, but at the same time it's one parents and educators should read because as much as you might think you understand what kids are going through, you don't. But you really, really need to try before it's too late.

      Out now in paperback and on Kindle

      This review first appeared on www.thebookbag.co.uk

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