This one stressed me out, for real.
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher is a young adult book about two friends, Eric and Sarah Byrnes, and their messy platonic relationship. In middle school, it was her severe burns and his extreme weight problem that brought the two outcasts together.
But in high school, Eric joined the swim team, thinned down, and Sarah pushed him away. But Eric stayed friends with her even as she made it increasingly difficult. Now it’s their senior year and Sarah Byrnes sits in a mental hospital unresponsive.
One day in the middle of school, she just froze. And as Eric visits Sarah Byrnes every day at the hospital, he starts to feel like there is something she’s been hiding from him all these years. And since she’s not talking, he sets out to find what’s been secret for so long.
And what he learns changes his life and Sarah’s life forever.
If I would have read this book in college, it would have added fuel to the fire that was my desire to change the world as a teacher. There is a well-written and strong, positive teacher/role model in this book. And that makes me proud. But in the same breath, I think it’s not real world anymore—teachers are not allowed to be good like that anymore. At least not where I’m at right now.
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes is a quick, powerful, and moving read. When I started it, I shared what I was reading with my students but the deeper I got into it, it was obvious it’s a little more than most middle schoolers need right now. So I’m not adding it to my shelves, but I’ve got lots of kids searching for it at their public libraries. That’s the rebellious part of me: I can’t give you this at school, but I want you to know about it and read it on your own. Because this book will speak to many of my kids. It spoke to me.
DISCLOSURE: AFFILIATE LINKS USED.