by Lange, Erin Jade

Unable to control his binge eating, a morbidly obese teenager nicknamed Butter decides to make live webcast of his last meal as he attempts to eat himself to death.

ERIN JADE LANGE is a news producer in Phoenix, Arizona. Butter was her debut novel. She is also the upcoming author of another YA novel with Bloomsbury, Dead Ends.

The premise alone is enough to break your heart. In a fit of spite, a 423-pound 16-year-old nicknamed Butter declares that he will eat himself to death on New Year's Eve-live on the web. Before he can even figure out whether he was serious, he is welcomed into the lives of the popular kids, who want to show him a good time before the big event (while making side bets on what his final menu will be). Butter knows they're jerks, but social inclusion is a dream, and it even allows him to get close to his crush, whom he has only spoken to online under an alias. So he can't back down-and the day gets closer and closer. The plot is designed for maximum cruelty, but that doesn't mean Lange isn't onto something powerful, placing her protagonist in a convincing no-win situation where a webcast suicide begins to look like a halfway-legitimate option. The first-person narration feels too serene, considering the events, but this is no doubt a strong, gutsy debut. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Butter gets good grades and plays smooth-as-butter jazz sax, but he is defined by both himself and his peers by his weight. At 423 pounds, he sits by himself in the lunchroom, parks his Beemer (this is Scottsdale, Ariz., after all) in the handicapped space in the school parking lot and diligently keeps his diabetes in check. As SaxMan on the Internet, though, he has an intense relationship with Anna, a girl who doesn't look twice at him in school. When a school meme designates him "most likely to have a heart attack," he decides to "command the conversation online" by declaring that he will eat himself to death on a live video stream on New Year's Eve, four weeks away. Almost immediately, he finds his social stock soaring, the A crowd-which includes Anna-adopting him as a mascot of sorts. Butter's tale reads like the problem novel it is, his narration feeding itself to readers so they don't miss a thing: "Popularity was like a drug-one taste and I was hooked." But he is likable, in his wry, self-hating way, remarking that he is "a binge eater, not a bulimic. That shit is for girls." In the end, it is the vision of life in the "fat suit" that should hook readers, whatever their size. Rubbernecking the train wreck that is Butter's last meal makes for an uncomfortably thought-provoking read. (Fiction. 13 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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