Friday, August 27, 2010

Butterfly ~ Sonya Hartnett review

Somehow with thinking Sunday was Saturday, Monday was Tuesday and Tuesday had been Wednesday, I didn't get this review posted this week . . . oops! (I was very off on my days the beginning of this week, I even hurried to finish my book on Tuesday--the actual one, that didn't, it turns out, have to be back until Wednesday. And Monday I was mad I couldn't find my cute 'vote' shirt on the voting day in some states--I only like to wear it on voting days somewhere.)

Butterfly
Candlewick
240 pages
August 24, 2010
Buy @Amazon

With her fourteenth birthday fast uproaching and a new school year also starting, Plum is just sure her life is going to change. She's sure she's going to go from the slightly chubby girl child she's been for years to an elegant young woman in the blink of an eye.

Plum, a girl who keeps a briefcase full of treasures hidden under her bed, is desperate to be grown up--much like just about every fourteen-year-old girl. Growing up in Australia with her mother, father and two older brothers Justin and Cydar, Plum has a group of friends at school to whom she's not very close. She hates her family treating her like a baby but still enjoys having her older (past high school age) brothers living at home and spending time with them.

Her older--in her 30s--next door neighbor Maureen becomes Plum's friend and helps Pearl to become more 'glamorous' and older acting, while also introducing her young child as another character in the story.

As Plum moves towards her birthday and through the first bit of her new year of school, she'll find that growing up is instantaneous or glamorous and it certainly isn't everything she thought. There will be pain ahead for Plum as she moves from childhood into being a teen and her family, neighbors and friends will be a part of her transformation.


Butterfly is told in the third person but by almost constantly using Plum's name instead of 'she' so it feels more like something similar to The Truman Story than a standard novel. It feels like you're observing Plum go through everything, that she's being observed by someone who's narrating. There are parts focused on Justin and Maureen that are told in the same way that give off a little bit of the same 'observed' feeling, but not as much. It's a really interesting way to have a novel written and I quite enjoyed it.

I think anyone who has ever been fourteen will easily identify with Plum-even if our lives were different. Based just on the way that Plum feels that, of course, things are going to have to change for the better: that she'll have to get skinnier, prettier, more grown up, something. There's a point in middle school/junior high when it seems like everyone is awkward in at least some way for some time and it feel like you're never going to be that cool teenager, Sonya Hartnett really captures that perfectly with Plum in Butterfly.

Plum's friends were also great. Not in that they were great friends, but they were such typical middle school girls. They were not good friends to Pearl and they just about always picking on each other or hard on each other the way that it seems like girls that age are (at least in retrospect).

This was set in the late 70s/80s based on the pop culture references but due to the lack of really dating ones it really could have been set just about any time. And because the relationships were all timeless, none of them felt dated, either.

I really enjoyed reading this book and think it's one that easily works for older teens and adults.


(I realise my summary doesn't have much in it but a lot of the events mentioned in summaries like the one on Amazon don't happen until much later in the book so I chose not to mention them in mine.)

9/10


Thank you to Library Thing's Early Reviewers for this book

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