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Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield - Review

Friday, July 15, 2016

Where did I get it? I bought it in Kindle format for £2.99, bargain! I bought Lisa's other novel, Seed, as part of the medal shortlist, but I haven't yet read it. My friend bought it at YA Shot last year though and she enjoyed it. I am now really looking forward to reading Seed. 

What's it about? June's mum died when she was six, and her dad quickly remarried to Kathleen, who has a daughter called Megan. When we first meet June, she's ten and being horrifically abused by Kathleen. Her dad doesn't see the abuse, and to everyone else she's a loving and doting stepmother. June is also bullied at school, and sometimes Megan joins in with the abuse. June is a very frightened and alone child. 
When she's a bit older, she meets Blister. He's homeschooled, from a big family, and he's made a den of a few old trailers out in the woods. The two spend plenty of time there, making paper butterflies, and plenty of time with Blister's family, where June feels safe and accepted. 
Scattered throughout the novel are scenes from "after" when June is talking to a Reverend about forgiveness and about the abuse. It becomes more clear about these as the novel goes on. 
I finished this novel last night and was absolutely shattered by it - I can definitely see it being a strong favourite for bext book released in 2016 for a lot of shortlists. I tweeted saying that it had absolutely broken me, and Lisa replied to me saying "Sorry... it broke me when I wrote it..." which is completely unsurprising. As a writer myself I know how awful it can be when terrible things happen to your beloved characters! 
What age range is it for? Gosh, it's a difficult one. June is so young at the beginning but the abuse detailed is really horrible to read. I would say take care with it, and yourself, and stop if it's too much
Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No
Are any main characters people of colour? Yes, June is mixed race - her dad is white and her mum was black. It contributes to the "otherness" she feels throughout, I think
Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Yes, June is clearly traumatised, and one of Blister's siblings has cystic fibrosis which I thought was a good minor plot point.
Is there any sex stuff? Not much, but a little. It's very sweetly done. 
Are drugs mentioned or used? No
Is there any talk of death? Yes, I'll trigger warn for suicide and graphic death. 
Are there swear words? Not many
Would I recommend the book? Yes, absolutely. A fantastic example of contemporary YA.  
How many stars? Nine out of ten. 

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