Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes
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Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  8,177 ratings  ·  711 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 (first published March 1st 1993)
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Jess Michaelangelo
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...more
Shannon
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.
Echo
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
Angie
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
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
Erin
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...more
Stephen
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...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...more
Darcy
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...more
Matthew Baum
Staying Fat for Sarah Brynes was one of the best books I have ever read. The constant conflict, cliff hangers, and and jaw dropping moments keep this book exciting. I also loved the characters in this book. Every character is so unique and so realistic, I almost became attached to some of the character during this book. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes is about the story of two teenage misfits, Eric and Sarah, who work their way through middle and high school. Sarah has a burnt face which leads to l...more
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
Heather
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...more
Ronny
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
kb
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
Marissa
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
Rachel
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
Carhyne
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
TeenFiction Teton County Library
Teton Co Library Call No: YA CRUTCHER, PLAYAWAY CRUTCHER
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...more
Marisa
Teton Co Library Call No: YA CRUTCHER, PLAYAWAY CRUTCHER

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...more
Michelle
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...more
Alexis
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...more
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
Beck
Oh, for half stars.... (3.5)

I liked this. Crutcher deals with the big issues while getting you involved in the tiniest human details. He's also great at fleshing out the underdog and penning the spirit needed just to get by sometimes.

Liked the reader.

Something about the voice (reader and text, I think) seems a bit odd, rather like how Mal talks in Firefly. It makes setting and time period confusing for me, but, if only because I so like Mal, it was still fine by me.

I'm not sure...we're dealing w...more
Aiyana
Eric, AKA "Moby," and Sarah bonded long ago over being social outcasts-- her for scarred face and hands, him for being obese. Eric joined the swim team and started getting in shape, but did his best to stay close to Sarah. Now Sarah is slipping away-- she has stopped talking altogether, and sits alone in a psych ward. Eric visits her regularly, trying to uncover whatever has made the bravest person he knows hide herself away, but discovering the truth will require a new level of bravery on his p...more
Kelly
I got this book at NCTE where I met Chris Crutcher. He signed this book for my son, Alex, who swam on a team last year. I thought he would like it. I read a bit to see if it would interest him, and I got totally sucked into the story. The main character, Moby (Eric Calhone) is an overweight kid who gets into swimming, but wants to stay loyal to his friend, Sarah, who is disfigured by facial burns. Their status as outcasts in middle school drew them together, and he doesn't want her to feel he is...more
Morgan F
This book was just plain annoying. Chris Crutcher's agenda was so obvious and obnoxious, it made me mad. Only half the book was spent on the plot, the other half was spent bashing someone for their beliefs and making this one stereotypical character look like a real jerk. The plot and catchy title looked intriguing, but it was hidden too deep underneath the annoying characters. This wasn't the first time this happened with a Chris Crutcher novel. In his other book I read called The Sledding Hill...more
Cara
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...more
Susan Katz
In my current project of reading through my piles of accumulated books with a view of donating to our local library all but the special few, this one is a keeper. I know I'll want to read it again. The two irresistible outcasts - Eric "Moby" Calhoune, the fat kid, and Sarah Byrnes, the girl whose burned face has made her a monster - form a believable and touching friendship. When Sarah fakes catatonia to find "time to think" about how to get away from her psychopathic father, the story ramps int...more
Jon
Engaging, heart-wrenching, and not my favorite Crutcher book. Sarah's plight, illustrated by her terrifying burn scars, coupled with her dad's evil nature, make me want to run the other way at times. Not that the characters are melodramatic--Crutcher's constant deftness with elucidating the human psyche prevents that--just too much pathos all at once. And then you have the sub-plot involving ultra-irritating Mark Brittain's emotional abuse of his girlfriend. Jeez, Crutch, were you, like, a thera...more
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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
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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.”
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“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.” 19 likes
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