From the back cover: What do you get when you throw together one of the ugliest human beings outside a circus and the fattest boy in high school? Two kids with the "terminal uglies" who are inseparable best friends.Sarah Byrnes's face is mostly third-degree burn scars. She's had them since she was 3 years old, but one day, during her senior year of high school, she stops talking completely and is taken in for psychiatric treatment. It's up to her only friend, Eric, to find out whether he can make her talk again. Along the way, he falls in love with his dream girl, fights with her ex, and looks at religion in a whole new way.Often considered one of Chris Crutcher's strongest novels, Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes was published in 1993 and won several awards, including the Joan Fassler Memorial Award, the ALAN Award for Contributions to Young Adult Literature, and the California Young Reader Medal.
Beautiful All Along: A justifiedaversion: Sarah Byrnes' burns (1) were treated only until they were nonlethal, with next to nothing reconstructive ever done, and (2) are 15 years old by the time we meet her. Even with extensive plastic surgery, she'll never be a pretty woman. Played straight with Eric: When he joins the swim team and loses weight, girls start to take interest in him.
Development Hell: According to the author, a live-action adaptation is in "pre-pre-production". The Writers' Strike of 2008 meant the script (which was, presumably, in the very first stage of pre-writes at the time) has been abandoned, but new writers are being brought in.
Driven to Suicide: Mark attempts this after it becomes public that he forced Jodie to have an abortion.
Extreme Doormat: Jody, but she finds her feet and stands on them by the end of the book.
Fat and Proud: Eric, implied through most of the book, and then confirmed at the end.
For the Evulz: Sarah Byrnes claims this is why her father does anything at all.
Full-Name Basis: If you want a response from her, you have to address her as Sarah Byrnes. She will not answer to "Sarah".
Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Mark espouses this view at length in class when the subject comes up. Later, it is revealed that he forced Jody Mueller to abort his baby.
Heel Realization: Mark has one after his suicide attempt which leads him to publically apologize for his actions and seek therapy.
Hypocrite: Mark Brittain. Full stop. Despite having nothing but contempt for women seeking abortions—they should suffer the consequences for "fornicating," after all—he bullies Jody into getting one after having pestered her into sex to begin with. An illegitimate child would ruin his reputation, after all.
Mama Bear and Papa Wolf: Sandy Calhoune (the mere suggestion of Eric bringing her in to talk with Mautz is enough to make Mautz shut up) and Carver Middleton to Eric and Sarah Byrnes.
Mr. Ellerby, full stop. As soon as Steve calls him that Mautz is trying something shady, he swoops into the office and manipulates Mautz into making a career-ending statement in front of 3 witnesses. Almost as an afterthought, he shuts down any further attempts at punishing/blaming Eric and Steve for Mark's suicide attempt. Too bad he left before Mautz brought Virgil out of the closet to harass Eric.
Preacher's Kid: The superficially irreverent Steve Ellerby seems like a sympathetically-portrayed Type 2; the sanctimonious Mark Brittain, like an unsympathetically-portrayed Type 1. Early in the book, that is; both ultimately subvert the trope.
Punished with Ugly: Sarah Byrnes, in what is probably the cruelest way ever committed to paper.
Punny Name: Sarah Byrnes... much to her annoyance.
If it ever was funny to the reader, it stops being funny rather quickly.