After all the backlash the original blurb (not the book itself, because everyone decided to get asshurt before the damn thing was even released so they could read it) for Holding Up the Universe, I was more than a little scurrrrred to share all of my thoughts about this book. Really, though, I should have nothing to worry about. After all, I’m giving it 4 Stars FFS.
Let’s get on with things. This is the story of a boy called Butter. (I’ll let him tell you how he got that moniker.) . . . .
After binge-eating himself to 423 pounds, being required to sit at a special table in the back of all of his classrooms, developing diabetes and isolating himself from ever interacting with other students as much as possible, Butter has ceased being the butt of the joke and instead has become someone who believes that . . . .
“I was just that pathetic – that pitiful. Most people couldn’t bring themselves to be cruel to me . . . . at least, not anymore.”
He also has come to the realization that . . . .
“I hated thinking about death – not because I was afraid of it, but because, for some reason, every time I did, I felt this strange wave of sadness that death was actually so far off. Sometimes I wished it would just hurry up and get here.”
Thinking he has nothing left to live for, he starts a website entitled ButtersLastMeal.com where he explains that on New Year’s Eve he will commit suicide by . . . . .
I know what you’re thinking: “eating yourself to death in one sitting isn’t possible.” Normally you’d be correct, but with a combination of a deadly overdose of insulin at his disposal as well as food allergies that could potentially kill him as well, Butter is not kidding around. The only thing he’s not sure of is . . . .
“What was I expecting from this? Pity? Attention? Would it have some dramatic impact? Or would I just come off as some pathetic crybaby?”
That’s how this book earns so many stars from me. Another selection from the 13 Underrated Novels You Must Read Immediately list, once again this selection scores points for being unique. It also scores high marks by having a main character like Butter who (although thankfully not nearly as awful as Hannah in Thirteen Reasons Why was not someone you could easily sympathize with. Although he was a victim of bullying, Butter took every opportunity for personal growth and flushed it right down the toilet. Instead of seeking deeper relationships with friends he had made at fat camp over summer breaks, Butter chose to Catfish a fellow student he had a crush on and ignore that his newfound “popularity” was anything other than superficial. The good news is, not everyone pussyfooted around Butter’s feelings . . . .
“Everything doesn’t suck, Butter. All that sucks is your attitude. If you just stop expecting perfection from everyone and everything, you might see the good stuff outweighs the bad. And then maybe someday you’ll look in the mirror and see the same thing. Because the person you’re most disappointed in is yourself.”
And it was nice to know I wasn’t the only one who wanted to smack him around a little bit. But I really wanted to smack his mother. Good Christ I’ve never read such an enabler!
This was a solid YA selection that I would easily recommend. The “will he or won’t he” aspect to the story was gripping, the “blame” (for lack of a better term) of the 423 pound situation was placed on the person who allowed himself to get that way rather than on anyone else (while definitely not giving a pass to the douchebags who treated Butter so horribly), the being called out for the so-not-okayness of creating a fake online persona, etc. all kept the pages turning and provided some valuable insight into the do's and don’ts of navigating the way to adulthood.