Friday, February 27, 2009

Book Review: Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes

Title: Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes
Author: Chris Crutcher
Genre: Young Adult, Literary Fiction
Rating: A+

Summary (from the Back Flap): "Sarah Byrnes and Eric have been friends for years. When they were children, his fat and her terrible scars made them both outcasts. Later, although swimming slimmed Eric, she stayed his closest friend.

"Now Sarah Byrnes--the smartest, toughest person Eric has ever known--sits silent in a hospital. Eric must uncover the terrible secret she's hiding, before its dark currents pull them both under."

Review: I think I could write a one-word review of this book (obviously I've exceeded that already, but I'm making a point here). The problem is that if I drop this one word on you, you'll be like, "What?!" It's a racy word, and I think it might be okay to use it because it's not like I go throwing the sauce around on this blog all the time--I prefer to save my racy talk for when I hang out with my sailor friends. Anyway, here's my one-word review:

FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC. Seriously. I know a lot of people say that using foul language is the hobgoblin of little minds (along with routine), and that if you can't say it more creatively than you're a loser, but the situation called for it. Read this one-word review, and tell me which is better: FANTASTIC. The middle part of the first review had an impact, didn't it?

Here's why this book is FAN-_ _ _ _ _ _ _-TASTIC:

1. The characters are amazing. Crutcher used to be a child therapist, and he's got this stuff nailed down tight. I loved it, it was gripping, moving, heart-wrenching, and beautifully drawn. Everybody--Eric, Sarah Byrnes, his parents, friends, foes, everyone--was fully developed.

2. The plot is hands-down dynamite. There's angst, there's sports, there's all kinds of lovey-dovey beauty. Strong friendships, lies, fears, everything you need for a good hard-boiled story.

3. The themes are tough to handle, but complex and thought-provoking. I work at a camp for abused and neglected kids every summer, and I don't think I'll ever be the same. This book is reach-down-into-your-chest-and-rip-your-heart-out writing. I actually gave my sister a summary of what the book was about, I only got through two sentences before she broke me off and said she couldn't handle any more, it was too much. I said, "You read books where the protagonist is a rape victim, but this is too much for you?" (This was in reference to some books by Charlaine Harris). My sister said crimes against adults, although awful, are nothing compared with crimes against children.

Tough to read, but totally worth it. I'm going to have to go out and get every last one of Crutcher's books. The guy is FAN-_ _ _ _ _ _ _-TASTIC.

1 comment:

heatherlo said...

I read this book years ago, and I agree with your assessment of it 100%. I thought the characters, the story, everything was just phenomenal.