This is a school bullying story with a difference. After years of torment about his larger size, the narrator – who’s so used to being referred to as ‘Butter’ that readers don’t get to find out his real name for most of the novel – has decided to end his life in front of a YouTube audience, by eating himself to death.
Butter is a shockingly compelling novel. The main character’s voice is self-deprecating and funny, giving the book a light-hearted feel despite its dark premise. It’s amusing to read, but it’s also uncomfortable – readers are put in the same position as Butter’s classmates, as fascinated by his plans as they are nervous for his future.
Some of the friends Butter makes as a result of his plan seem quite likeable at times, but there’s a sense of foreboding in his new relationships, and it’s always clear that most of the kids suffer from herd mentality, thoughtlessness and lack of empathy. The depiction of Butter’s parents – one a loving enabler, the other totally detached – is more subtle but equally important. Anna, Butter’s online love interest, doesn’t come across as a particularly sympathetic person, but it is interesting to see the way their online relationship highlights the prejudice that’s so prevalent. It seems to me that the story is designed to make readers question their own attitudes to fellow human beings.
Thought-provoking and insightful.
Review by Luisa.
Butter by Erin Lange
Faber Children's Books