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Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes Paperback – March 18, 2003

4.3 out of 5 stars 205 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Such superlatives as "riveting" and "powerful" can only hint at the craftsmanship on display in this transcendent story of love, loyalty and courage. While probing such issues as friendship, free speech and moral values, Crutcher ( Chinese Handcuffs ; Stotan! ) tells a tale whose mordant humor, poignancy and suspense pack a breathtaking wallop. A social outcast in junior high due to his excessive weight, narrator Eric Calhoune found a kindred spirit in Sarah Byrnes, whose face and hands were hideously disfigured in a childhood accident. Now a senior and considerably slimmed down through competitive swimming (though still aptly called "Moby"), Eric remains fiercely devoted to his friend, whose caustic tongue is her only protection from life's inequities. When Sarah abruptly stops talking and is committed to a mental ward, Eric is compelled to take action to help her, but quickly finds that he is in over his head. He risks their friendship by breaking his vow of secrecy and enlisting others' aid--help that comes from such unlikely quarters as a former bully, Eric's swim coach and, most surprisingly, his mother's seemingly wimpy boyfriend. A subplot centering on a self-righteous teammate drives home the point that nothing is as it appears on the surface, and leads to Eric being caught between his menacing vice-principal and the even more malevolent Mr. Byrnes--with spine-tingling results. Superb plotting, extraordinary characters and crackling narrative make this novel one to be devoured in a single unforgettable sitting. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up-Chris Crutcher's stunning story of teen loyalty and courage (Greenwillow, 1993) is narrated by Johnny Heller. His convincing voice adds tremendously to the sense of immediacy with which 18-year-old Eric Calhoun tells the story of his friend Sarah Byrnes, horribly disfigured since age three. Doomed to live with the irrational and evil father who burned her on a wood stove and compelled her silence for years, Sarah finally reaches the limits of her endurance. Eric, an amazingly good swimmer despite his heavyweight size, struggles to uncover Sarah's nightmare past and find a way to help her. The two outcasts had been best friends for years, but the loyalty built on this odd friendship ultimately required enormous courage from both of them. The exciting story has it all: intense examination of values, normal teen concerns with friendship and personal growth, sports, dates and, above all, interesting and likable characters who make readers laugh through all kinds of pain, suspense, and even danger. Heller is perfectly cast as Eric with his comedic timing down so finely that listeners can hear Eric's wry perspective on himself coming through the action and introspection of this outstanding story. While keeping his tone and pitch centered beautifully on Eric, Heller manages to convey other characters' voices with only subtle modulations that contribute to making Eric an even more convincing narrator. No collection aimed at teenagers should miss this outstanding title presented in this equally outstanding way. Every adult who listens to this with a teenager will find it challenging, worthwhile, and a rare opportunity to experience something wonderful together.
Jane P. Fenn, Corning-Painted Post West High School, Painted Post, NY
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books; Reprint edition (March 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060094893
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060094898
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (205 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris Crutcher grew up in Cascade, Idaho, and now lives in Spokane, Washington. He is the critically acclaimed author of six novels and a collection of short stories for teenagers, all chosen as ALA Best Books. In 2000, he was awarded the American Library Association's Margaret A. Edwards Award, honoring his lifetime contribution in writing for teens. Drawing on his experience as an athlete, teacher, family therapist, and child protection specialist, he unflinchingly writes about real and often-ignored issues that face teenagers today.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Chris Crutcher has tapped into the teenage psyche for this one. This is a most confusing time in any person's life: you are just starting to deal with certain issues (sex, fitting-in, questioning religion, et cetera), and you may be angry and don't know exactly why. I remember my teenage days quite vividly and have found that I can relate to this story on certain levels.
This is a story about Eric "Moby" Calhoune, a so-called fat kid, who bonds with Sarah Byrnes, an outcast burn victim. They form a friendship that is tested on many occasions by Sarah's inability to face her past and her relationship with her father (Mr. Byrnes is one of the most evil characters I have ever encountered in literature). Soon things get dangerous for both Sarah and Moby, but I won't divulge anymore details. You must read the book to find out what happens.
I will only say that while this book centers on abuse (in many forms), it also deals with a wider range of teenage problems. What is so profound about this story is that it could happen, it may have even happened to some of us or someone we know. It's truthful and realistic. Be careful. It may hit you hard when certain things are revealed. If you tend to cry while reading books or watching films, you might want to have a tissue handy when you sit down with this one.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The question I get asked most often has got to be, "So what's your favorite book?"
It's a tough one to answer, because there are so many wonderful books out there. But when all's said and done, I think I have to go with "Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes," by Chris Crutcher.
Overweight Eric "Mobe" (as in "Moby") Calhoune and burn victim Sarah Byrnes united during junior high because of their shared "terminal uglies," fighting off bullies and insidious school faculty, to name a few.
Now in high school, Mobe's an athlete on the swim team, despite his efforts to remain plump and preserve his treasured friendship with Sarah Byrnes (sick of every idiot calling attention to her condition and her last name, she makes everybody call her by her full name).
When she winds up in the psych ward, the story launches into something both horrifying and heart wrenching: When Sarah Byrnes was three, her abusive father Vergil held her face to a hot stove.
Mobe's got to find a way to protect her from her father and bring her back into reality.
It's a truly gripping tale, one that will have readers on the edge of their seats. Vergil Byrnes is by no means an ordinary villain; he is a monster. But Crutcher doesn't simply stop with Sarah Byrnes' saga.
On the sidelines, but no less important, is the story of Mobe's rivalry with Mark Brittain, a fellow swimmer.
Mark is hardcore religious, while Mobe's more accepting and easygoing. It's fascinating to watch such different individuals with so different beliefs go head to head, whether in the pool or in their debate class, Contemporary American Thought.
It's heavy stuff, but Crutcher adeptly balances it by giving his characters the ever welcome gift of sarcasm.
Read more ›
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book spoke to me from the shelf, so I picked it up, not knowing what I'd find. I found an intelligent and witty novel that is gripping from the first chapter. Sarah Byrnes, a tough, intelligent girl, is forced through life with the burden of her scarred face and maniacal father. Eric "Moby" Calhoune, an overweight swimmer, is her best friend, who has to deal with the knowledge of her secrets. Behind the main plot are a controversial bunch of debaters-Ellerby, the liberal preacher's son who challenges all Bible thumpers in style, Ms. Lemry, the strong-opinioned teacher and coach who fosters heavy debate in her classes, Mark Brittain, the overzealous pressured persuer of conservative Christian values EVERYWHERE, and Jody Mueller, who is torn between enforced beliefs and her life's hard facts-who are looking for the balancing point in a world of clashing beliefs.The crafted debating of abortion and values rings true if you've ever witnessed the real thing. Somewhere amidst the fight between libral choice and conservative value and struggle of survival for the teens, a happy(yet realistic)ending emerges.
A strong plotline and strong sense of humor make this book good, but Crutcher's strong characters are what make it great and worth reading. Eric, Sarah, Ellerby, Ms. Lemry, Mark, Mr. Ellerby, Mr. Mautz, Jody, and Dale are all complex and have a story or motive or simply an aura that makes the reader want to know more and more. A really, really strong recommendation for this one, folks.
Oh, yes: Ellerby's celebrated Christian Cruiser, a pale blue with airbrushed clouds station wagon that blasts Mahalia Jackson at full volume and states, "The wages of sin are a buck fifty", deserves an extra commendation. Such creativity.
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By A Customer on June 19, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
No book has ever captivated me as much as this one. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes is a fiction. yet realistic book written by Cris Crutener. The characters of this book are strong characters that contribute to the greatness of this book. Eric Calhoune, a senior, faces the task of helping close friend, Sarah Byrnes, who was burned in an accident. Sarah's dad, her problem, is not necesaraly someone you'd like to be friends with. Eric faces other small, bothersome problems. The biggest of them all, Mark Brittain, a fellow classmate who constantly lectures everyone on his strong catholic believes. The only thing Eric doesn't despise form Mark is his girlfriend, Jody Mueller Mrs. Lemry, a strong character, is Erics swimming coach and CATS teacher. Eric tries to help Sarah overcome a psycological problem, by visiting her at the psycological center. Soon, he finds out a dark secret Sarah has kept from everyone for a long time. He then becomes involved in a constant fight to keep Sarah safe. This book came to me when i wasn't sure if I still enjoyed reading. Lately, as a student i have not been able to choose the books I wanted to read, and wa not enjoying reading. Choosing this book was not easy. Mainly, I thought I was going to have to face another boring book. I was wrong. As I read the first pages, I found myself cought up in the plot. Without realizing it I finished, what was perhaps, one of the best books I ever read. It's true that this book involves the same kind of drama many books involve, but something about it is different. it has this special thing that seperates it from other books. You will not encounter a language that is boring or too elegant. The language is realistic and so real that young people will have no trouble reading and understanding it.Read more ›
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