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Cher-y-lynne {sher-uhl-lin} –noun 1. One who formerly sold and recommended children’s books at a bookstore; a specialist in young adult, middle grade, and picture books. 2. A para-educator at a middle school. 3. A struggling young adult writer. 4. A lover of chocolate and popcorn. Archaic: An Audiology and Speech Language Pathology major at Brigham Young University. Questions? Suggestions? Books you'd like me to review? E-mail me at cherylynne1 (at) gmail (dot) com.
This is a blog for my ranting, raving, and occasionally brilliant opinions. You have been warned. Enter at your own risk.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Book Review: Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher

Crutcher, Chris. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes. New York: HarperCollins, 2003.

"You have to call her by her whole name. Sarah Byrnes. She only answers to Sarah Byrnes."
Laurel stares at me blankly.
"When we were in junior high," I tell her, "Sarah Byrnes got sick of every new Einstein at school thinking he was the only genius in the world to figure out the great pun about her last name and her condition. She hated waiting for them to get it, so she made everyone call her Sarah Byrnes. If you just call her Sarah, she won't answer."
Laurel nods. "I'll tell the others. That's important. Is there anything else?"
"I don't think so."
"Well, I'll leave you tow alone. Just talk with her about things that might jar her."
"Remember Crispy Pork Rinds?" I whisper into her ear when Laurel is out of sight. If anything should get a reaction, that should.

Eric Calhoune and Sarah Byrnes were both outcasts. Eric was fat, and Sarah was covered in horrific scars. Together, they discovered that their combined intelligence and courage could run circles around nearly anyone. His sense of loyalty made Eric is willing to stay fat and unattractive even after joining the swim team so as not to lose Sarah Byrnes. But now Sarah Byrnes is in an institution, and it’s up to Eric to figure out what put her there, or risk losing her forever.

Wonderful. Just fantastic. Chris Crutcher is known for capturing a male YA voice. If you're trying to write a YA novel with a male protagonist, you have to read Crutcher's books. Everything about this novel is great, the symbolism, the characterization, the plot. Everything works. The voice is pitch perfect, witty, and just plain fun to listen to. It's a good balance for the darkness of the plot.

Some may object to some of the topics brought up in this book...it covers everything from abortion to child abuse. It's definitely a book to read before your teen does. It does provide a great opportunity to discuss some of these topics with your child.

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