Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes
Eric Calhoune and Sarah Byrnes were best
friends. They both considered themselves outcasts. They both had problem lives. Sarah had been severely burned as a young
child on her face and hands and developed a tough skin because of what she endured due to her appearance. Her father had only
allowed her to be cared for to save her life. Eric was considered the “fat kid.” They became friends because of
their “terminal uglies.” Sarah and Eric create a school paper in order to seek revenge on those who have made
their lives miserable. Eric is accused of writing the paper and takes up for Sarah when the accusation is also aimed at her.
Eric decides to be part of the swimming team and in order to keep Sarah from believing he no longer wanted to be her friend
he eats more while his body is slimming so that he can stay fat. Eric did this for an entire year.
Sarah suddenly becomes catatonic and will
speak to no one. Eric visits her often to try and help her overcome her illness. Eventually, she confides in him and tells
him her father has become more and more dangerous to live with and admits she has not told the truth about her accident. She
tells Eric that her father had pushed her face against the furnace. Trying to protect herself with her hands caused her hands
to be burned also. She said she needed to figure out what to do, so she devised the plan to go to the hospital until she knew
what to do. She wants to find her mother. Eric confides in a teacher and she helps Sarah find her mother. Unfortunately, Sarah’s
mother cannot handle the situation about her disfigurement. Sarah decides she cannot go back home even though her father insists.
She decides to tell what happened when she was younger. Her father goes to jail, and she is adopted by her teacher just hours
before her eighteenth birthday and hopes she will live happily ever after.
Chris Crutcher writes in such a way that
the reader feels compassion for the characters and can almost feel their pain. The story captures your attention so that you
want to keep reading to find out what happens. The loyalty and friendship that Eric and Sarah have for one another is very
touching. Because of the issues that Crutcher writes in his novels, he has received several awards for his Young Adult Books.
The issues brought up in Critical American Thought Class leave the reader thinking for themselves. The moral issue of abortion
will captivate the reader as well.
One Publisher’s Weekly book
reviewer writes, “While probing such issues as friendship, free speech and moral values,
Crutcher tells a tale whose mordant humor, poignancy and suspense pack a breathtaking wallop (amazon.com). The book reviewer
also noted that, “Superb plotting, extraordinary characters and crackling narrative make this novel one to be devoured
in a single unforgettable sitting.”
reader who definitely enjoyed the book states, “Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes is definitely not your everyday
book. It has its share of suspense and action, but the focus lies in Sarah Byrnes and Eric's complex and intricately crafted
friendship. It is what makes the book so powerful. As a result of the author's keen perception of how teenagers talk and act,
readers identify with the characters. There is a human quality not found in most literature today that makes this an attention-grabbing
Crutcher, Chris. 1993. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes. New York: Greenwillow Books.
Amazon.com Book Reviews. www.amazon.com. Accessed June 28, 2005.
Teen Ink Book Reviews. http://www.teenink.com/Past/9900/February/Books/StayingFat.html. Accessed
June 28, 2005.