Agent: Jennifer Laughran
Editor: Caroline Abbey
Released: September 4, 2012
Genre: YA Contemporary
Butter's nickname reminds him of an experience he'd just as soon forget. It's all in the past, after all. Everyone leaves him alone now, and he sits at his own lunch table with his big spread every day. But when he finds out it isn't over at all, that he just isn't aware of what people say about him behind his back, Butter decides to take control, to be the one to decide what people say about him. And he creates a blog promising to eat himself to death on New Year's Eve at midnight. He's an instant sensation, and suddenly he's included in all the popular crowd's activities. It feels like popularity - but is it, when all his new "friends" are cheering on his suicide?The premise of the book drew me in before I even started reading. A boy so down about his size and his resulting social ostracizing, and a promise to commit suicide in a novel way, streaming live for all his classmates to see - definitely intriguing, in a morbid kind of way. But the book itself is not morbid - or not entirely, anyway. Butter is a funny guy, which no one appreciates because they can't see past his size. His friend from fat camp recognizes Butter's true personality, but Butter can't process that because it's too tied up in fat camp experience, and he sees it only as being friends with another fat person, not a "real" person, not the people who "count."
His personality tones down the horror of what he's going through. Seeing the story from his eyes, the way he feels about each event, means that there's a sarcastic commentary to everything - everything except what matters to him, like the girl he likes or the real attention he gets from his new "friends." But when he talks about his plan to eat himself to death live, when he's busy compiling his last meal's menu, he's snarky and sarcastic.
While Butter is enjoying his newfound popularity, I as the reader was aghast at how his "friends" were reacting, realizing that this is a completely realistic situation. I could totally believe that this could happen in real life, and it's a sad commentary on teens' emotions and capabilities of immense hurtfulness and callousness. Butter's reaction is equally saddening, as a desperate boy clings to even the merest resemblance to friendship and acceptance.
Of course, as the date of his last meal gets closer, the tone changes and he begins to realize the realness of it. That brings a real dilemma, as he tries to decide if he'll go through with it. He isn't quite sure if his "friends" think he'll go through with it or not, and he knows there are some people who would tell the authorities if they thought he really will. So he tells his "friends" he'll do it of course, while telling everyone else it's just a joke.
Thus begins the really tense reading experience. Will he or won't he? What will his social outcome be? The ending fully satisfies, with the lessons he learns about friendship and real life, and relationships in general.