I noticed a pattern in several of the young adult novels I’ve read lately…many have to do with a character and their best friend who is of the opposite sex and they go through difficult things together and apart, while one seems to be helping the other the most.
This book, Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes fits in that category. The main character, Eric Calhoun, struggles with his weight and lives with his mom. His father left when he was still a baby and he knows very little about him. His best friend, Sarah Byrnes, lives with her abusive father and hides behind her scars. These things bring them together as friends. They created a newspaper in junior high called Crispy Pork Rinds, describing both him and Sarah in one title (I thought that was pretty clever). But it’s Sarah who is the fighter. She is the one who seems to stand up to the others when they are mean, whereas Eric just simply makes fun of himself and takes it. Something changes though.
When you first read the book, he talks about Sarah being somewhere starring into space and not answering him when he goes to visit her or seeming to care. I was confused, but eventually it tells you its a place called Sacred Heart, a mental hospital. He visits her daily and stays to talk even though there is no response from her, because he loves her and promises her she is important to him.
He reminisces about the past with Sarah, as he mingles in his visits to see her at the hospital. Come to find out, Sarah is hiding a secret, a secret that needs to be exposed for her sake (which reminds me of Charlie in Please Ignore Vera Dietz). It ends more happy though than some of the other books I’ve been reading. Deals with abuse and friendship and staying true to who you are…what most young adults need to read about!
Click on the image to visit the author’s Amazon page to find more books written by Crutcher.
Crutcher, Chris (1993). Staying fat for Sarah byrnes . New York, NY: HarperCollins.