Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Crutcher, Chris. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes. HarperTempest (Greenwillow Book), 2003 (c1993). 295 p. PBK $8.99 ISBN 978-0060094898

SUMMARY: "The daily class discussions about the nature of man, the existence of God, abortion, organized religion, suicide and other contemporary issues serve as a backdrop for a high-school senior's attempt to answer a friend's dramatic cry for help."

RISKS: Graphic violence, sexual activity, physical abuse, vulgar language, abortion

EVALUATION: With some knowledge true-life horror stories to work with, Crutcher is pretty good at making them seem authentic. I would say he has a knack for addressing very serious and difficult issues in his novels, and with a very believable teen voice. Sarah Byrnes and the protagonist, Eric, have a convincing friendship - one that is not perfect and developed from being the pair being equally outcast, though for different reasons, at school. In this story, as with Chinese Handcuffs, the ending seems far-fetched in its closure and completeness of revenge against the villian, but not without reason. I think Crutcher can't resist tying up a pretty neat ending. But it does make you feel better after all the hurting that goes on in the story. Endings that play out the fantasies of readers who are well-invested in the protagonist's plight can be extremely cathartic.

READER'S ANNOTATION: Both outcasts, Eric and Sarah, have had to rely on each other. But when Eric discovers the crimes of her father, will he be able to protect her?

TOPICS: friendship; bullying; physical abuse; swimming; high schools; violence

AWARDS: Margaret A. Edwards Award, 2000

Ages 12-17

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