June’s life at home with her stepmother and stepsister is a dark one – and a secret one. She is trapped like a butterfly in a net.
But then June meets Blister, a boy in the woods. In him she recognises the tiniest glimmer of hope that perhaps she can find a way to fly far, far away from her home and be free. Because every creature in this world deserves their freedom . . . But at what price?
I read Lisa Heathfield’s debut novel, Seed, in August last year, and if I remember correctly, I read it in two sittings. It was thrilling and tense and suspenseful, and I absolutely loved it, so when I found out that Lisa Heathfield had written another book, Paper Butterflies, I knew I had to read it (I mentioned that I was looking forward to reading it in one of my posts on summer releases last week), and I definitely was not disappointed.
I read the entire book feeling a little bit horrified at the heinous, horrendous things that Kathleen, June’s stepmother, did to her and got away with. Every time I thought it couldn’t get worse, something else would happen and it would, just in a different way than I’d expected. Kathleen cast a shadow over June’s life, and June was absolutely powerless to do anything about it. There was an aspect of this book which reminded of another book, Beautiful Broken Things (which I also reviewed), as both made the point very clearly that with abuse, the victim is never to blame. Kathleen never left a mark that could prove anything, and in any case, no one believes June about anything – from the horrors Kathleen inflicts upon her, to the way the other kids pick on her at school – so I think that books which try to show how abuse can come in many forms, and that victims aren’t often in a position where they can seek help with support, are very, very important.
After all the pain and suffering June had to endure in the other parts of her life, Blister seemed like a ray of hope in the gloom, and him and his family provided the only bright spot in June’s life. I loved how he was caring and calm – except when June’s suffering made him angry – and supported June unwaveringly. I thought the characterisation in the book was fantastic, as all the characters were realistic, and did realistic things, such as June’s eventual angry response, and the way she froze Megan, her stepsister, out, and Megan’s retaliation to that.
The ending touched on yet another important matter, although I don’t want to say what it was and give it away. I was close to crying as I turned the final few pages, and I thought that the ending was very hopeful, which I liked – June deserved a couple of pages of hope after everything that had come before.
Overall, I thought that Paper Butterflies was emotive and intense and completed surpassed my expectations. Lisa Heathfield has a talent for writing books that draw you in and are hard to put down, and I cannot wait to see what she writes next.