Crutcher, C. (1993). Staying fat for Sarah Byrnes. NY: Greenwillow Books.
Eric Calhoune is a young man that is overweight and bullied and made fun of at school. His best friend has a more serious problem though. Sarah Byrnes was burned in a mysterious accident when she was three years old. She has had to develop a very serious and cold demeanor to deal with life. As the two unlikely friends go through middle school and high school, they stick together. When Eric joins the swim team and begins to drop the weight, he is worried that Sarah Byrnes will not need him as a friend anymore. He tries to overeat to stay fat for his friend. In their senior year of high school, things start to change. Sarah Byrnes suddenly stops talking and is put in the hospital in a coma-like state. As Eric sticks by her side and tries to talk to her to keep things normal, he soon realizes that Sarah Byrnes is really faking her state to stay away from her dad who is actually the one who burned her in the first place. Eric tries to come up with a plan to save Sarah Byrnes from her father and keep her as a friend. In the end, Eric protects Sarah Byrnes and with the help of a beloved teacher, his family, and friends, they get Sarah away from her father and into a safe home. This book was funny and dark. I loved the wit and sarcasm of the characters. It had more suspense and excitement than I was expecting. I thought this book was a great example of an author creating memorable characters. Sarah Byrnes had an amazing presence and attitude that really showcased her strength as a person. The author also created an authority figure (a teacher), that was a positive influence on the other characters. This is something that young adults should be able to easily identify with.
This book could be used with grades 9-12.
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