Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I love this book to pieces! Unfortunately, the new paperback version I was reading actually was falling apart. I don't know what was going on with that. I know it sounds weird given that Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes is a realistic, contemporary YA novel, but I kept turning the pages because I just had to know what was going to happen to the characters.
Even though Sarah Byrnes' name is featured in the title, Eric Calhoune is the main character. Eric was a chubby kid, and Sarah Byrnes' face was so badly burned when she was a child that she is disfigured for life, and most people cringe when they see her. As kids, the two of them were inseparable. They had their freakiness in common. Eric provided companionship and support for Sarah and Sarah protected Eric's mushy gushy heart with her fiesty personality. Our story begins years later when Eric has grown into his body and joined the swim team, and Sarah Byrnes is in the psych ward where she refuses to speak to anyone.
Eric wants to help his friend, but has no idea what to do. He visits her every day and dutifully follows the instructions from her counselors: talk to her as if everything is normal. So he talks to Sarah about memories he has of their grade school shananigans and about his feelings for a girl in his Contemporary American Thought (CAT) class. Meanwhile, he explores his own fundamental beliefs about the value of life and the meaning of accountability and integrity in CAT.
As Eric looks deeper into Sarah's past and her family, he realizes that many of his fundamental assumptions about who Sarah is and what made her that way are wrong. The truth is much worse, and saving his friend is going to take all the courage he's got.
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