“Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes” by Chris Crutcher

Recommended to me by: Tess Alfonsin

A hard-edged book for teens that takes on multiple tough issues:

  • Children’s cruelty to each other for being fat or disfigured
  • What it’s like to grow up fat or disfigured
  • Surviving parental abuse and abandonment
  • Abortion
  • Hypocrisy
  • Religious intolerance by some Christians

While I applaud the author’s courage in addressing all these important issues, I think the book would have been stronger with at least one fewer sub-plot and more attention to characterization. The major teen characters showed some complexity, but the adults were either all-good or all-bad.

I was caught up in the plot and characters until the book suddenly turned into a thriller with a violent climax. I felt tricked into reading something far more violent than I expected or enjoyed.

I’m glad teens are reading and thinking about all the issues in this book.  I wish the issues weren’t packaged with a violent, all-good/all-bad wrapper.

Available at Powell’s Books.

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