Paper Butterflies- Lisa Heathfield

Published By Electric Monkey

Book Review By Gemma E McLaughlin

A lot of the time with the YA fiction that I read, it can be used as any escape from the problems and monsters of the real world and Paper Butterflies is vastly different from that idea, in all of the right ways. I chose to review this particular novel this week because I read it about two years ago, and whenever I think of it I am bowled over by its insistent ability to stay with me, and I think that will remain no matter how much time passes. The story is one of stark, heartbreaking truths and the hopeful goodness of youth woven in between all that is cruel and that is something that I Hope never changes.

The book brings us into the world of June, a girl who’s mother died when she was younger and who’s father proceeded to lorry a woman who abuses June physically and emotionally whenever his back is turned. The woman’s daughter seems only to laugh along and as her stepmother is careful never to leave scars or traces of what she does, it feels to June that she is trapped, in a way that is compared to a butterfly in a jar.

She finds hope, however, in a boy named Blister who she met in the woods. Blister has a large family that love each other immensely and are kind to June whenever she visits and a warm and hopeful outlook on the world. Whenever she can June slips away to see him and over the years the two build a relationship that leads them through the heart-wrenching twists of the plot and their individual struggles. There are a lot of moments in the book that make the reader feel as though all is lost, that make us question how this could possibly end happily for the characters that we’ve grown to love. I think making moments as scary and real as that are necessary so that each struggle they get through makes us love Blister and June a little more.

The book’s ending left me feeling drained of all emotion, as though I was waiting for someone to convince me that I ever had a life outside of this book, something that I don’t think I would have believed at the time. Though it has been a long time since I have forgotten myself over June and Blister, I remember the feeling of knowing I’d read something of real worth to me. Paper Butterflies became a part of me as soon as I first opened it, and that hasn’t left me. I think it’s important to read books that change us, even in a little way, and in my experience all too rare. I hope you take the time to pick up Paper Butterflies, and find a similar sense of hope, and will to survive in yourself that I did.