Friday, November 26, 2010

Jessi Stays Fat for "Sarah Byrnes"

Title/Author: Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
Publisher/Year: Greenwillow Books, 1993
How I Got This: From my local library!
Why I Read It: I read this for my YA class and because my professor had been raving about it since the beginning of the semester!
Rating: 4 Stars

Quick Synopsis (from Goodreads): 

When Sarah Byrnes was three years old, her condition became synonymous with her surname. Her face and hands were badly burned in a mysterious accident, and her father refused to allow reconstructive surgery. She developed a suit of cold, stainless steel armor to defend herself against the taunts of a world insensitive to her pain. You enter into Sarah Byrnes's world on her terms, or you don't enter.

Enter Eric Calhoune--Moby to his friends. Eric passed through his early years on a steady diet of Oreos and Twinkies and root beer floats, and he sports the girth to prove it. Because of their "terminal uglies," he and Sarah Byrnes have become true masters in the art of underhanded revenge directed at anyone who dares to offend their sensibilities.

When Eric turns out for the high school swimming team, he begins to shed layers of extra poundage. Fearing the loss of the one friendship he treasures, he gorges to "stay fat for Sarah Byrnes," who discovers his motive and threatens to beat him more senseless than she thinks he already is. Then the truth of Sarah Byrnes's horrific past finally catches up with her.

This was such an excellent read! I'm honestly surprised that Chris Crutcher is not a more prominent name in YA literature because he's one of the better ones that I've ever read. He is really an amazing writer, and I'm glad that my professor had us read this book.

Crutcher knows how to craft a very good line, and he uses his words effectively. There were some really gut-wrenching lines in this book. He gets in the heart of his character and stays there, creating the distinctive voice of the witty smartass narrator, Eric Calhoune. While I couldn't really visualize the characters, I got such a clear picture of their voices and their personalities that I would know them anywhere. I love when authors do this with their characters because it shows me that they actually care about their characters.

Another big plus in this book is that Crutcher absolutely does not shy away from any of the raw topics of life, ranging from domestic abuse to abortion to religion, which is why he gets banned quite frequently. I love that he takes these untouchable topics and has his readers really think about them through the antics of his characters. I think it's important for people to read about stuff like this, if just for the simple fact of being aware that it happens. Crutcher's approach also works really well because he uses comic relief and laughter to lighten the mood. Just because he talks about serious subjects does not mean that this book is a Debbie Downer, by any means. Hell, I read the first page and I was cracking up already. Eric, otherwise known as Mobe, is such a witty and hilarious narrator. There aren't many books out there that get actual physical reactions out of me, but this was one of them. I laughed out loud, I cried, and I gasped. That takes some good writing.

So, if you're looking for an author that you may not have heard of who writes quality novels (11 in total), I highly suggest checking out Chris Crutcher.


  1. I haven't heard of this one before...I wouldn't normally give it a second thought, but I'm really glad to see you quite liked it! Great review, as usual :)

  2. I read this book a few years ago and still think about it! I loved this one and I'm so glad you did it too!
    I totally agree about Eric being a hilarious narrator and that Crutcher should be a more prominent name in YA books. Great review :)

  3. I read this book in high school and absolutely loved it. I've probably read it five or six times since and it never gets old. The characters are so well-drawn, and unique. A must read, I think.

  4. Thanks for the review! It's sad that books that are a few years old often get forgotten so quickly. This sounds like a good read. Thanks for letting us know about it!

  5. I've been meaning to read this book for years! Glad to hear you liked it!

  6. I read and loved this one. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more by Crutcher! This book was amazing! :)

  7. This book sounds wonderful! I've never heard of Crutcher before, but it sounds like I've been missing out.

  8. I'm surprised how many of these comments say they haven't heard of Chris Crutcher. In my opinion he IS a prominent name in YA -- and his books have been challenged a lot, so that's another reason he is "famous." Definitely check out his work, if you haven't!


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