Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield
Published by: Electric Monkey
Format: ARC e-book
I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.
I read Seed at the beginning of the year, and loved it, in a really creepy, I can’t put this down kind of way. When I saw Paper Butterflies, I knew I was interested enough in Lisa Heathfield’s writing style, and ability to give her plots so much suspense, I had to request it. The blurb made the book sound really interesting, about a girl called June who finds a best friend, Blister, and they have lots of fun together. I should have known that this blurb was too good to be true. There was also a hint of an evil stepmother, but the evil was certainly not exaggerated. Kathleen was the most evil woman I’ve ever read about and made this book extremely difficult to enjoy. The rest of my review is going to be a rant about my feelings, because I really don’t know what to say about this one. It’s certainly unique, but in a good way? Maybe.
Lisa Heathfield has changed the way I want to give star ratings to books. Usually, the criteria for a five star read, for me, is that I have some kind of emotional reaction to it, whilst or after reading. Laughter, tears, just can’t stop thinking about it, all of those things count. I definitely cried while reading Paper Butterflies. Like, a lot, because I was so scared for June and what her life was going to become after all the abuse from her stepmother and class mates and sister. Literally, she was choked, forced to eat and drink until she burst, had her prized possessions ruined. It was traumatic and made me absolutely hate what I was reading.
So, I had an emotional reaction to the book, giving it a five star quality, but I absolutely HATED what was happening, making me want to give the book one star. I don’t understand how someone would want to read something with so little hope. BUT, like I said in my introduction, Lisa Heathfield’s writing style makes it so you can’t stop reading. I read this in one sitting, because I knew I couldn’t wait to find out if June would finally be free of the cruelty around her. I invested a lot into her character, because she deserved so much better and her situation was so horrible. Her moments with Blister were my favourite to read, because for a few pages, I could rest knowing that June was happy.
Uh, this book. Things as horrible as that actually happen to children. It definitely opened my eyes to the reality of child abuse, and the fact that no-one can truly know what goes on in another person’s house. When a child is too scared to tell an adult about what’s happening to them, my heart breaks. The world shouldn’t be like that. People shouldn’t be like that. I wasn’t prepared for such a devastatingly sad book.
Another ARC review I read said that this book was like a car crash. You didn’t want to look but you couldn’t look away, and I think that perfectly sums it up.
I’m not going to promise that June gets a happy ending. It takes a lot of reading before you get to a point where you feel kind of OK for her. But, if this book taught me anything, it’s that retaliation is not a good idea. Fighting fire with fire is disastrous, especially when actual fire is involved.
That said, about the plot, I really enjoyed the story telling. There’s a before and after section, which tricks you into thinking things get better for June, and over the course of the book, June ages from ten to twenty-four. This worked really well, but suffering for fourteen years? I was surprised with just how strong she was to endure it all. There’s a HUGE plot twist, which literally made me gasp, making this book exactly like Seed, but much, much harder to read.
Verdict? 2 stars. Would I recommend? I don’t know.