On the surface Butter is about a fat kid, actually an obese kid, a boy who has topped the scale at 423 pounds. (That’s 192 kilograms for those of you in decimal countries). His name, Butter, comes from a spoiler incident I won’t tell you about here. His Mom definitely loves him; his dad we’re not so sure about. Butter sure as heck thinks his Dad loathes him for not being a football player. And the kids at school? Basically, they don’t even really see Butter anymore. He’s just that freaky fat kid that they all pretend not see because of how he makes them feel.
And Butter is all about that. But I’ve just gone back and re-read the beginning of the book – the bit where we meet Butter for the first time. And I realised this book is all about how we talk about fat people, and how they talk about themselves to themselves. The self-loathing Butter has for himself is palpable. The fear that, really, no-one loves him and never will. And how he feels about the pointlessness of his life is breathtaking.
“I can’t take another year in this fat suit but I can end this year with a bang. If you can stomach it, you’re invited to watch…as I eat myself to death.”
What starts as an angry threat on a blog grows to have a life of its own, as Butter’s declaration takes over the imagination of kids at his school. “Will he” “Won’t he?” “I bet he’ll chicken out?” “I can’t wait!”
You’ll have to read the book to discover the whole story. Safe to say you might need to have a box of tissues handy. This is an ‘issues’ book, but one that faces the issue head-on.