Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes

by Chris Crutcher

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062687746
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/30/2018
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 80,022
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Chris Crutcher has written nine critically acclaimed novels, an autobiography, and two collections of short stories. Drawing on his experience as a family therapist and child protection specialist, Crutcher writes honestly about real issues facing teenagers today: making it through school, competing in sports, handling rejection and failure, and dealing with parents. He has won three lifetime achievement awards for the body of his work: the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the ALAN Award, and the NCTE National Intellectual Freedom Award. Chris Crutcher lives in Spokane, Washington.

Read an Excerpt

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes EPB
Chapter One

My dad left when I still had a month to go in the darkroom, and historically when people have tried to figure me out (as in, "What went wrong?"), they usually conclude that Mom spoiled me; gave me everything I wanted because I had no pappy. Truth is, Mom thinks I'm a whole lot better off without that particular pappy and has told me a thousand times she's glad I had the good sense to stay packed away until he split. They were young. My mother was my age now when I was born, and so was my dad.

I don't know very much about Dad, really. In eighteen years he's made no effort to contact me, and all I have is a picture. He's a college professor somewhere in the Midwest, Mom thinks in Geology. She doesn't think Geology is in the Midwest, she thinks that's what he teaches. The fact that he's excited about rocks hasn't had much genetic influence on me as far as I can tell, but what I see in the picture of him has. My dad is a tub of lard. At least he was at eighteen. I'm not talking about a guy who should have gone light on the desserts and between-meal snacks. I'm talking about a guy who should have spread Super Glue on his lips before showing his face outside his bedroom each morning. My dad could have sold his extra chins for marble sacks.

And my mom is a fox. Really. Bonafide, hundred-thousand-dollar silver-pelt fox. She has dark brown hair and green eyes and this slinky, long, muscular body that she keeps in perfect working order, and I know for a fact half the kids who come to my house hope to catch her in shorts and a tank top. Christ, she's only thirty-six years old.

"Mom," I said one morning a couple of yearsago, Dad's picture clutched tight in my beefy paw, "tell me something. Tell me why somebody who looks like you would fall for somebody who looks like this." I plopped the picture on the coffee table in front of her.

"Looks aren't everything, Eric," she said.

"His looks aren't anything," I said back. "And he left them for me."

She looked up and smiled. "You look a lot better than your dad," she said. "He was compulsive, ate all the time. You're big and solid. That's different."

"Big and solid as twelve pounds of mashed potatoes in an eight-pound bag," I said. "If you dressed me up in an orange and-red sweater, you could ride me around the world in eighty days."

"And you have a much better sense of humor than your father," she said, probably remembering Dad's high regard for rocks. Mom was never one to let me dwell on the parts of me I didn't like.

My name is Eric Calhoune, and though I have spent hours in the weight room since that conversation, most folks call me Moby. My English teacher, Ms. Lemry, who is also my coach, sometimes calls me Eric the Well Read, because I'm pretty smart. She also calls me Double-E, for Eric Enigma. "I can't figure exactly how you're put together inside," she says.

"You're a jock who doesn't compete in his best sport, a student who doesn't excel where his aptitude is highest, and you surround yourself with a supporting cast straight out of 'The Far Side."'

"Tweech his own," I said, and pirouetted to tippy-toe out of the room, in keeping with my image as Double-E.

If my belly button were a knothole it would certainly be more congruous with my keg-like body. I have chiseled away at my father's genetic code since I realized I was better equipped to roll to school than walk, but the bare-bones me is still more Raymond Burr than Arnold Schwarzenegger. All of which wouldn't matter, but for the amount of time that belly button is exposed, which approaches four hours a day. I'm a swimmer. I probably don't have to tell you the Speedo people don't employ William Conrad as a fashion designer, and I therefore do not step onto the starting blocks looking like a Sports Illustrated fashion plate.

Looks alone would be enough to keep most guys with my particular body design as far away from water as the Wicked Witch of the West, but swimming is a thinking man's sport and Ms. Lemry is a thinking man's coach. Besides, it keeps me far from the clutches of Coach Stone, who has been trying to get me to come out for wrestling since I was a frosh because he fancies me unbeatable as a heavyweight, which I very well might be. But the idea of a permanent gash across the bridge of my nose and mat bums on every pointed appendage does not appeal to me no matter how many trophies I might walk away with. I'm not a great swimmer, but I'm good—a lot better than you'd think looking at me-and I like the challenge of the clock, as well as the people involved. I also like the wake I create for the guy in the next lane.

We're eight thousand yards into the workout. Lemry's whistle blasts. "Let's wrap it up. Twenty-five yards. All out. Five breaths." Five breaths. No sweat.

"Twenty-five yards," she yells two laps later as we pull ourselves onto the deck at the far end. "All out. Three breaths." The oxygen bill is in the mail.

"Twenty-five yards. All out. Two breaths." Serious oxygen debt begins.

"Twenty-five yards. Did I say all out? One breath." The whistle...

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes EPB
. Copyright © by Chris Crutcher. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 190 reviews.
Jasmine_F More than 1 year ago
Staying Fat For Sarah Byrnes is about an odd friendship between two kids in high school with different but equal problems. Sarah Byrnes is horribly burnt and the main character Eric Calhoune is just overweight, but is constantly picked on. Sarah begins to shut out the world and Eric is left to pick up the pieces to figure out why, and to find out the secret she's been keeping all the years of their friendship. Eric begins to slowly understand Sarah's secret and tries to do something about it. Taking an unexpected twist in events the novel turns into something more than friendship. It takes a glimpse into the debate of abortion, religion and family issues. Creating an environment any teenager can relate to. The book is very serious at times but also contains a lot of comic relief. Both flow into each other well and will either leave you laughing or dying to keep reading. This book is very realistic when it comes to high school. The author includes a swimming team, which Eric is part of, and the bully everyone is afraid of. The author also gives a strong message. Will friendship be everlasting through thick and thin or will it crumble beneath the weight of the pressures of society. Overall i absolutely loved this book and would highly recommend it for anyone looking for a different kind of novel. A great break from the routine. So will the friendship of Sarah and Eric prevail or will it be lost? Well you'll just have to read the book and find out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this book would be quick and just okay. But i really enjoyed it. The writing was hilarious and the plot had me finish the book in one day.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book, I thought was awesome! I mean even though there were a lot of controversial things like abortion, child abuse, religion/semi-religion it still tied into the characters and Sarah Byrnes. It seemed while other students were wrapped up in their problems it was still relating to Sarah Byrnes' problems except it was just being kept inside. Once her best-friend Eric told her about his love-interest and her abortion Sarah didn't feel so alone. She realized that she wasn't the only one hurting so bad but there were others hurting too but just in a different way. This was a heart-wrenching story of a kid that stands up for a friend when an adult can't. I loved every page of it and recommend it to anyone and everyone!
SkylarRay44 More than 1 year ago
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes is a story about an incredibly strong friendship between Eric Calhoun and Sarah Byrnes. They have been best friend for the longest time. Sarah has a scar down her face that she has to live with every day, which she received from a pot of boiling water. Throughout the book he uncovers many stories about Sarah Byrnes and what really happened to her. Through the long remarkable journey they do many things for each other that show the real meaning of friendship. Sarah is sent to the hospital because she has stopped communicating and they cannot find out what is wrong with her. While she is there Eric comes to visit her and everything just slowly pours out, but Sarah's secrets aren't the only person's secrets that come out of hiding. All the characters have some problem they are facing and some don't know how to face them with issues such as suicide, abortion, and finding a loved one. In the end it all turns out to be the best thing that has ever happened to some of them. I believe that this book really shined through on showing the emotional side of some teenager's lives. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes showed me that I kind of take my family for granted and how I don't really understand what it is like to experience the life that some kids have. Details given by Crutcher on her father and what he did to her are similar to other people's parents and the harm they provide for their kids. I really enjoyed how this book was written and the lesson I was taught from it. In conclusion this book was an amazing eye opener that has a great impact on many peoples lives. In the beginning it was very slow, but as we slowly found out about the characters and what was going on the excitement of what would happen next greatly approached on us. Everything in this book held us on a new attention level. The word choice, the descriptions, the setting, the characters, all made this book so well rounded. This book is a must read for people 13 and up! It greatly deserves a five star rating, although some or the topics and diction are very vivid. With everything that happened it was one of the best books I've ever.
NOLAreaderMH More than 1 year ago
This book broke my heart in the beginning, but it was so much more powerful and moving the more I read. Eric and Sarah's friendship is rare and makes you feel hopeful for their futures. It's believable and a story for all ages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I an 16 years old and had to read this book for school normally school books are horrible but i was surprized that this book was good. It is tragic what the kids have to go through. It made me a little emotional... i would not recomend this book to boys ... but it was a well written book and very creative!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Try imagining having only 1 adult that is a pure psychopath with a dash of insaneness and a cup of crazies. This crazy-insane psychopath is named Virgil Byrnes. Virgil Byrnes has a daughter named Sarah. Sarah is not a normal kid compared to everyone else you would see. Her face is all disfigured from a tragic accident from when she was younger and that makes her an outcaste as well as Eric, one of Sarah¿s friends. Eric is not a skinny boy and has been offered to join sports because of his weight. Both of them have been ridiculed and harassed because of how they look and what they do. One day Eric sees Sarah powerless in a hospital. Eric tries with all his might to find the cause of her not speaking. While he is trying to find the cause, he instead finds out what happened in her childhood and he also learns more about himself. Throughout the book he meets new people with Sarah in the back of his head. Eric learns why people act the way they do. When he knows why Sarah is in the hospital he is shocked of what happened, not being able to swallow the truth. This is a tear dropping book that makes you relate things that are going on in your life. I did not want to put the book down but when I did I was wondering what will happen next. Chris Crutcher did an amazing job at describing the places and events that were going on in the book. While I was reading the detailed book, it felt like I was actually in the story, feeling the tension and emotions throughout the characters. After reading this book, I give the book a five star rating because of its thorough descriptions. I was satisfied with the book and I would love to read it again.
WittyreaderLI on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Another Crutcher book that I tried but could not get into it!
mjspear on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A great look at the unlikely friendship between two students with "terminal uglies": HS senior Eric Calhoune, so fat they call him 'Moby' and Sarah Byrnes with a scar-torn face, the victim of a fire. As the book opens, Sarah is in the local mental hospital as a sudden mute. Eric must figure out why his best friend has stopped talking... and why some secrets should remain silent.The book is a little dated: the abortion subtheme, and stereotypical characters (Sarah's psychotic Dad, the religious principal and conservative do-gooder student) seem heavy-handed to this reader. Still, no one captures high school sports, male bonding and guy dialogue like Crutcher.
Joybee on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Great book. Wonderful 'real' character and lots of controversial topics, this book makes you think about life and question your ideals.Eric Calhoune is fat. His best friend is Sarah Byrnes who has a burn scared face from 'accidents' when she was a young child. Eric as a high school senior is the narrator of this story. He reminisces about his past in middleschool, causing trouble with Sarah Byrnes, while trying to deal with his current problems.
cestovatela on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I really wanted to like this book. The synopsis was so promising: Sarah Byrnes, whose face was disfigured in a fire at the age of three, befriends a boy who is an outcast because of his weight. As Moby, the boy, joins the swim team and gets in shape, the friendship is threatened. Except that's not actually what the book is about. Moby is the narrator, and the book is as much about his life on the swim team, his current events class, and his clash with a Christian Fundamentalist at his school. The friendship and conflict with Sarah developed before the main part of the narrative, and though her mental breakdown fuels the plot, Moby's life and experiences receive far more weight. I was frustrated that just when the book developed some real emotional resonance, it devolved into a gratuitous action scene that strained the story's teetering credibility past its breaking point. This might be easier to forgive if Sarah had been more involved in the crazy denouement, but we hear her story mostly through others' words. The book really should have been her story, and I constantly felt that she had been displaced by the narrator's far less interesting character.
321Gemstar on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I probably wouldn¿t have picked this book up myself, since it's written by a guy (yes, I know this is sexist) and there is an awkward picture of dude in a speedo on the cover. However, this book, or rather the author, was recommended. So I read it. It ended up being a very good book. It's not super long - only 295 pages - so I was able to read it rather quickly. I guess that's a good thing, but a short book always means that you get to the end faster and spend less time with the characters than you would have liked. That was definitely true for this book. The main character, Eric, is an athlete (not something I can relate to, having left behind the dread and exhaustion of middle school sports and summer swim teams 2 years ago). Though he is still overweight, he is a really good long distance swimmer and kicks butt. His best friend, Sarah Byrnes, has a really badly scared face, and is as tough as anything. As in any good book, there is more to them than either of their appearances. Their friendship is really interesting - not in the gossipy/secrets way, but in the I-need-your-friendship and lean-on-me way. Other characters include Eric's swimming coach (my favorite character), the guy who bullied Sarah Byrnes and Eric in middle school, and Sarah Byrnes' father. Both Sarah Byrnes' scars and Eric's weight issues help me relate to their characters. Is there anyone who hasn't thought they looked fat or wished their face looked different? No, probably not. If someone's out there and reading this who hasn't, I envy you. Eric and Sarah Byrnes work through and despite of their physical appearances, gaining love and respect anyway; they are happy. I respect them.I can't stand stories with sad endings, and stories with emotional not-sad-or-happy endings make me cry. Hard. For hours. I like this book's ending. There is drama and scary moments, emotional realizations and great stuff, but everything turns out okay in the end, with my favorite characters better for it.I enjoyed this book and definately ecomend it.
Ynaffit27 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Here comes another great novel by Chris Crutcher who writes about the real issues in teens lives--from abuse, friendships, relationships, religion, and self-esteem. Although this book is not as powerful as Whale Talk, I think there is a lot to like about this book. Crutcher deals with hardships in a way that's relatable to people that aren't even facing that hardship. I find myself hanging on to his words and the characters' situations. There's always a moral and lesson to Crutcher's books and I admire that. This book looks into the fragility of human's psyche and the dilemma's people face from social, spiritual, or psychological situations. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes dives into looking at the different perspectives of things and re-evaluating our lives and beliefs. I would have to say that the amount of issues in this book didn't quite seem connected--maybe I just didn't piece it altogether.
fromthecomfychair on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Chris Crutcher's great writing makes this story of friendship between outcasts a real winner. It's unusual, in that the two friends are boy and girl, Eric Calhoune and Sarah Byrnes, and their relationship is not a romantic one, but one that evolved out of their need for friendship and protection middle school. When one of them is in crisis, the other comes to her aid, and as the reader discovers the reason behind the crisis, the suspense builds to a heart-pounding climax.
MelissaMarieL on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This book is about two best friends names Sarah and Eric. Sarah is "ugly" bcause her face is burned due to a trajic incident. Eric is an overweight guy who feels if he stays overweight it'll keep Sarah happy. This book talks about their friendship and events that have happened in both their lives. This book was a pretty good book in my opinion.
sexy_librarian on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Trying to write a synopsis of this book is difficult, because of the many issues that are approached in this book. There are themes of friendship, mentors, crushes, family, class difference, bullies, religion, abuse, trust.... and that's just the start of it. As an adult reading this, I was easily drawn into the storyline, but unlike most other young adult books the action escalates to an almost unrealistic peak, but retains the usual happy ending.I particularly like the fact that adults to play a pivotal role in this book. Most Young Adult books keep the adults in the background, so as to allow the young characters more freedom. Crutcher puts the adults back into a central, if not annoying role in the lives of the kids. This makes the book applicable to both adults and teens I think, considering adults can take this as a lesson on communicating with kids.
Ellen_Norton on LibraryThing 8 months ago
At the opening of this novel, Sarah Byrnes is in a mental hospital and suddenly mute, and her best friend, Eric "Moby" Compton is trying to figure out why his best friend all of a sudden refuses to talk. While this book is not really about staying fat, but more about the things that draw friend together, what brings about trust, and what secrets should stay secrets, it is nonetheless an excellent read. There is a subplot about abortion and religion, which is a bit 1990s but probably still appealing to kids today. Overall a good read.
Marshahawkins on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This was my second Crutcher book and I was a little disappointed to notice a similar formula as Deadline: discussions in class address major cultural issues, main character is sports star, an adult teacher serves as confidant, secondary antagonist is a fellow student that either dies or commits suicide. Still, Deadline was such a great book because the main character was so intriguing. The formula worked because of the language and the relationships among the characters. I just couldn¿t quite bond with this main character, Eric. His friendship with Sarah Byrnes was not believable enough for me and its setting lacked depth. I¿m not going to let this book change my mind on Chris Crutcher, I think he is a great writer. I just hope this suspiciously similar formula is not his signature.
kdebros on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Chris Crutcher's books are always quite hard-hitting, intense, personal...This is the story of two friends - the fat kid and the scarred kid, and how they cope in high school with the people that don't understand what its really like to be different. Incorporates themes of abuse, friendship, vulnerability and putting up fronts.
anyanwubutler on LibraryThing 8 months ago
After reading Draper¿s drunk driving death, depression, suicide, rape, emotional and sexual abuse, grinding poverty, Crutcher¿s humor about his teenage outcasts characters is refreshing. Eric (the protagonist) also known as Moby and his best friend Sarah Byrnes have a deep tie: their status as pariahs. He¿s a former fat kid, now a HS swimmer. (Swimming has caused him to loose weight, but he thinks to still have Sarah Byrnes¿ affections he has to remain fat, so he eats everything. She convinces him she¿s not the shallow.) Sarah Byrnes is a smart, tough and horribly facially scarred who sits silent in a psychiatric hospital to protect herself from her monster of a father.
readingsarah on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is one of my new favorite books. I read it in about one sitting and loved it, and cried, and laughed.
theeclecticreview on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Another great Chris Cutcher novel that touches on child abuse, obesity, abandonment and abortion. It's amazing how he can get all these subjects into one novel without it being too overwhelming
ewyatt on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I just reread this book and like it all over again. Sarah Byrnes stops speaking and is placed in a psychiatric ward. Eric "Moby" her best friend since middle school visits her daily to try to get to the root of what has happened. Sarah has burn scars all over her hands and face that she got during a household incident when she was young. When the truth comes out that her dad is the reason for her injuries, things start to escalate. Eric has tried to prove his loyalty to Sarah a number of ways. First he tried to stay fat for her even after he started swimming with the team and losing weight. He also has always refused any outing where Sarah was not welcome. The book traces the relationship of the two from the beginning of their friendship. There are also several interesting subplots and characters. There is Mrs. Lemry, the strong progressive teacher and swim coach, who serves as a mentor to Eric. The subplot with Mark Britton and his religious beliefs and suicide attempt. The Ellerby's, the power hungry assistant principal, and the CAT class. For all that is going on in the book and the tidy endings despite all the messiness in the storyline, there is a lot of meat in this book to think about.
amydross on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I was intrigued by the concept of this book when it was presented to me: fat boy and deformed girl have been friends since childhood, united by their outsider status. What happens to the friendship when fat boy slims down and starts to get popular?But that wasn't what this book was about at all. The formerly fat boy never really considers abandoning his friend, so instead the conflict revolves around a fairly ludicrous and melodramatic storyline involving horrific child abuse, catatonia, cross-country pursuit, and a knife-wielding villain lurking in dark shadows. I guess I can see why kids would be grabbed by that kind of drama, but it all seemed a little silly and far-fetched to me, frequently depending on HUGE coincidences. Another thing that bothered me is the degree to which adults ultimately solved all the problems in the book. It's supposed to be a coming of age novel, about teenagers making their first forays into adulthood, but it seemed like in the end, all the characters were infantilizined by the adults swooping in to the rescue. And finally, I was disturbed by the way that every Christian in the book (except the sainted Episcopalians) was portrayed as an amoral hypocrite. Laying it on a bit thick, perhaps?
pressingon on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I found the book hard to get into at first, but after you make it past the first fifty or so pages it's hard to put down. The characters are believable and realistic, and the story flows beautifully.It's well written and worth a read.