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Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  10,171 ratings  ·  823 reviews
When Sarah Byrnes was three years old, her condition became synonymous with her surname. Her face and hands were badly burned in a mysterious accident, and her father refused to allow reconstructive surgery. She developed a suit of cold, stainless steel armor to defend herself against the taunts of a world insensitive to her pain. You enter into Sarah Byrnes's world on her ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 15th 1993 by Greenwillow Books
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This was such an excellent read! I'm honestly surprised that Chris Crutcher is not a more prominent name in YA literature because he's one of the better ones that I've ever read. He is really an amazing writer, and I'm glad that my professor had us read this book.

Crutcher knows how to craft a very good line, and he uses his words effectively. There were some really gut-wrenching lines in this book. He gets in the heart of his character and stays there, creating the distinctive voice of the witt
This novel is a heart-wrenching, very real novel of two best friends that stayed close for so long due to their alienated qualities. Makes me think twice about how I treat people in all settings. Chris Crutcher is definitely worth while.
Okay, so can you really read just the title of this book and not want to dive into the rest of it? I couldn't. This was one of our monthly Young Adult Reading Group (YARG) Readerville selections back in the day. It was also my first Chris Crutcher book and, really, what a way to start. I had no idea what his writing style would be like, how his characters would affect me, and I was floored by how deeply involved I became in their story. I can't remember exactly who suggested it, but I am so very ...more
I read Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes when I was taking a young adult literature class in college. I'd just finished reading Chinese Handcuffs, also by Crutcher, and even though I'm not interested in sports at all, I really enjoyed it. Feeling in the mood for some more angst, but wary of the emphasis on sports in a lot of his books, I decided swimming would be an interesting sport to read about and picked up Staying Fat. It wasn't bad. In fact, it was very similar to other books of Crutcher's I've ...more
I believe I read this book while in high school, but picked it up at Borders again.

This Crutcher story focuses on Eric Calhoun, a high school student who was formerly "the fat kid," and his friend Sarah Byrnes. Sarah is a special person - Eric knows this immediately. To everyone else, though, she's the girl with the scars on her face - allegedly from pulling a pot of boiling water on herself at a young age.

When Eric joins the swim team and begins to slim down, he attempts to eat twice as much, j
Kara Ripley
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cassie Sonnenberg
This book is a slow starter, and at first, I thought it was going to be a pretty typical story of high school outcasts: the fat kid and the badly scarred girl who are best friends provide each other a sanctuary from the rest of the world. Midway through, though, the book gets into some pretty heady issues: suicide, abortion, religion, child abuse. The characters' experiences and the way Crutcher tells them definitely make the reader think -- especially the in=class argument about abortion and re ...more
Cameron Miller
I greatly enjoyed this book. While I wouldn't say it is "the best book I've ever read", it is enjoyable.

I'll start with the things I don't like. First off, the characters, while dynamic, are very predictable. I liked them, and the way they changed or showed who they really are through their actions. However, they can be very cliche and predictable at times. Also, this book pisses me off at some points. This might be simply because I'm a highly opinionated liberal, but I suppose it would be the s
If anyone is looking for a new hero I think it should be Sarah Byrnes. She has had a tough life and does something drastic to avoid more horror! I loved how Eric stood by her and did what he could to help her, even when things started to get dicey. I also loved that when Eric realized he was in over his head he went to a respected adult for help and she was able to do what was right and help Sarah instead of following the rules.

The other drama in the book was interesting. At times it seemed over
Sandra Strange
This book reinforces my objections to Chris Crutcher’s novels, since it had the same problems I saw in his earlier books. The plot concerns a fat boy who takes up swimming and his friend, whose face was badly burned in an accident when she was very young. The “villains” in the book are a stereotyped unjust and sadistic vice principal and a fundamentalist Christian swimming competitor who proves to be particularly hypocritical. My objections: spates of bad language, and the “politically correct” ...more
I think I could write a one-word review of this book (obviously I've exceeded that already, but I'm making a point here). The problem is that if I drop this one word on you, you'll be like, "What?!" It's a racy word, and I think it might be okay to use it because it's not like I go throwing the sauce around on this blog all the time--I prefer to save this kind of talk for when I hang out with my sailor friends. Anyway, here's my one-word review:

FAN-_ _ _ _ _ _ _-TASTIC. Seriously. I know a lot o
This book covered a lot of ground.
- suicide
- abuse
- friendship
- abortion
- bullying
- family
- religion/beliefs

Almost all of the above issues were handled realistically and in a way that teens could relate to. Even though there were so many issues woven into the story, it never felt preachy or hokey.

The story itself is about Eric aka Moby and Sarah Byrnes. We get to see how their friendship got to where it is, and how Sarah ended up in the psych ward not saying a word to anyone. Watching Moby fig
Not my cup of tea.
Man, talk about keeping it real.

That picture of a swimmer's torso really doesn't give any indication to the bomb awaiting the reader behind the cover, ready to explode and intriguing from the very beginning. I love how an immediate tone and sense of teenage wisecracking cynicism is set from the very first sentence; you have absolutely no excuse about not knowing what you're getting into-- and even then, the book goes in a very different direction. I wish there had been a "Contemporary American T
Alex Shippey
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Isabelle Williams
The book "Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes" takes place in modern day Washington. The main character, Eric Calhoune is a chubby swimmer. He was "fat" when he was younger but he keeps it off by being on the swim team with his friend Steve Ellerby. Sarah Byrnes is Eric's best friend, has been since junior high. " Sarah Byrnes. Toughest kid I know, and she just slipped away." (Crutcher 7) Sarah makes everyone call her Sarah Byrnes because she has burns all over her face, "When we were in junior high S ...more
This book was very suspenseful, and the sense of danger built as I read until by the end I couldn't read it fast enough. I read most of the book today. The story was top notch, and I liked the way the author developed each character. I didn't love the writing style itself. I felt like the dialogue seemed unrealistic, but still I liked the book.

I noticed there were a lot of pay phones in this book...but that's because it was published in 1993! I have to say until the end of the book (with the men
I thought the plot was very sad and suspenseful. I thought Sarah Byrnes dad was mean at first when I thought he just wouldn't let her get reconstructive surgery to repair the burns from spilling spaghetti all over herself. It was very sad when Sarah went into the psychiatric ward in the hospital because she wouldn't talk. It was very suspenseful when she thought her dad was getting bad again and might hurt her. Then I was very surprised when I found out her dad burnt her by pushing her against a ...more
Biggest surprise read into the year so far. I didn’t expect this badly covered book would take me so deep into its story and far into my mind. Wow, did I just say that profundity?? But see what I mean! I expected this book was just going to be another easy read for me - after all, that almost-naked boy in swimming trunks didn’t seem too serious for me - but sorry, self, Chris Crutcher apparently isn’t into meeting expectations. He’s into racking your brain, challenging you to think about what wo ...more
First and foremost, what an incredible story! Okay so I didn't exactly know what to expect from this book when I borrowed it from the library since the blurb is pretty brief, but I am so glad I ended up picking this one up. Our main character, Eric Calhoune, has known Sarah Byrnes since they were in grade school. If theres anyone who knows Sarah Byrnes best, its Eric. Refused to be called by just her first name, Sarah Byrnes and Eric have been friends for years since her scars and his weight mar ...more
I loved this book, though I didn't think I would even be interested in it when I first read the description/review. It had a lot of complex issues in it, which is probably why it has been challenged so much. Basically the story is Eric (nicknamed Moby b/c he's fat) is best friends with Sarah Byrnes, who is ironically named as she has huge burns across her face and arms. She has completely shut down and is in the hospital and it is up to Eric to figure out what is wrong with her. All of this whil ...more
This book was sad and depressing but it also made me think about my beliefs as a citizen and about wether or not I am going to project my beliefs unto other’s around me. Within this book they juggled some serious topics such as religion, abortion, suicide and shame. While reading this book it sort of made me think about these everyday things that may pass us by or things we don’t really think about happening to us. Religion came up a lot within this book and it kept coming up because it seemed ...more
Just finished this novel and highly recommend it to parents and to teens who enjoy thoughtful, well written coming of age stories.

I like the way that Crutcher presents athletics. Most athletes spend the VAST majority of their time training and only a small percentage competing and a still smaller percentage winning the big event. Crutcher's writing realistically emphasizes the time spent training. In addition, the athletics aspect is always a sub-plot to another story that the reader can tell i
TeenFiction Teton County Library
Marisa's rating: 4 stars!

This is exactly what teen fiction should be - cleaver, smart, funny and of course, attacking real modern teen issues. Chris Crutcher does a great job with his main character, Eric Calhoun- a portly high school swimmer, whose relationship with his best friend (and burn victim) Sarah Byrnes is central to both their lives. The story begins in typical teen-angst fashion: our two heroes are smart outcasts, who go through
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 i

This is exactly what teen fiction should be - cleaver, smart, funny and of course, attacking real modern teen issues. Chris Crutcher does a great job with his main character, Eric Calhoun- a portly high school swimmer, whose relationship with his best friend (and burn victim) Sarah Byrnes is central to both their lives. The story begins in typical teen-angst fashion: our two heroes are smart outcasts, who go through middle school clinging t
I think I remember...and forgive my memory because it has, sigh, been a long time since I was an undergrad...but I remember a young adult fiction literature class where almost everyone was reading and/or discussing this book. That and The Chocolate Wars which I might have actually read, but I don't recall.

For some reason, I didn't ever pick this up. In any case, I wish I would have read it then. I really do. I'd like to compare notes about what I thought then and what I think now. It's controver
I rate Staying Fat For Sarah Brynes by Chris Crutcher a 5 out of 5 stars.

Eric Calhoune and Sarah Byrnes are different from others and they both know that, through Sarah’s scarred face, and Eric being overweight life wasn’t easy, but they made a promise to remain close friends. Sarah has to be a strong, independent person because of her past, but ends up folding under pressure. Yet she must remain quiet from the beast who scares her the most, her dad. It’s up to Eric to find a way to get her awa
Libby Ames
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes is a profound story about loyalty and adversity. With his experience as a family therapist, Chris Crutcher knows and reveals the ugliness of cruelty, prejudice, and human suffering. He writes about issues like child abuse, abortion, depression and suicide with raw honesty. However, his books also show the beauty of personal strength, true compassion, and loyal friendship. His stories aren’t for readers who want a fairy tale version of the world, but his reality shows ...more
This is a book by Chris Crutcher, so of course, it deals with some heavy issues like child abuse, abortion and bullying. However, it a lighter and more 'fun' novel than Whale Talk. The protagonist, Eric, is a 'fat kid' who befriends a scarred girl at his school - Sarah Byrnes. Her hands and face are severely burned. They bond because they are both outcasts. However, Eric takes up swimming and slims down. After being friends for a long time, Sarah ends up in the Psychiatric Unit at the hospital - ...more
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Should This Book Be Taught in High School? Yes... No... Maybe? 1 11 Dec 11, 2014 02:27PM  
Radical Readers: Chapters 16-Epilogue 1 4 Apr 17, 2014 06:34AM  
Radical Readers: Chapters 11-15 1 2 Apr 14, 2014 09:21AM  
Radical Readers: Chapters 6-10 1 2 Apr 08, 2014 06:41AM  
Radical Readers: Chapters 1-5 1 5 Apr 01, 2014 07:59AM  
Where can I read Crutcher's books? 1 10 Jul 31, 2012 08:49AM  
Chapter One 1 19 Apr 11, 2012 10:17AM  
  • Fat Kid Rules the World
  • The Rag and Bone Shop
  • True Believer (Make Lemonade, #2)
  • Breathing Underwater (Breathing Underwater, #1)
  • America
  • God Went to Beauty School
  • When Dad Killed Mom
  • The Orange Houses
  • Stoner & Spaz (Stoner & Spaz, #1)
  • Godless
  • Shattering Glass
  • Hush
  • Squashed
  • Mexican WhiteBoy
  • One Fat Summer
  • The First Part Last (Heaven, #2)
  • Leverage
  • The Things a Brother Knows
Chris Crutcher's writing is controversial, and has been frequently challenged and even banned by individuals who want to censor his books by removing them from libraries and classrooms. Running Loose and Athletic Shorts were on the ALA's top 100 list of most frequently challenged books for 1990-2000. His books generally feature teens coping with serious problems, including abusive parents, racial ...more
More about Chris Crutcher...
Deadline Whale Talk Ironman Athletic Shorts: Six Short Stories Stotan!

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“From a distance,' he says, 'my car looks just like every other car on the freeway, and Sarah Byrnes looks just like the rest of us. And if she's going to get help, she'll get it from herself or she'll get it from us. Let me tell you why I brought this up. Because the other day when I saw how hard it was for Mobe to go to the hospital to see her, I was embarrassed that I didn't know her better, that I ever laughed at one joke about her. I was embarrassed that I let some kid go to school with me for twelve years and turned my back on pain that must be unbearable. I was embarrassed that I haven't found a way to include her somehow the way Mobe has.'

Jesus. I feel tears welling up, and I see them running down Ellerby's cheeks. Lemry better get a handle on this class before it turns into some kind of therapy group.

So,' Lemry says quietly, 'your subject will be the juxtaposition of man and God in the universe?'

Ellerby shakes his head. 'My subject will be shame.”
“It's a scary thing; moving on. Part of me wishes life were more predictable and part of me is excited that it's not. I think it's impossible to tell the good things from the bad things while they're happening.” 24 likes
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