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Paper Butterflies Hardcover – October 1, 2017
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About the Author
Lisa Heathfield is a former high school English teacher who lives with her family in Brighton, England. Paper Butterflies is her second novel.
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Top customer reviews
In truth, I don't recall the last time I read a book that was this intense, this raw, this difficult to get through due to the circumstances surrounding the protagonist, June. However, I want to be clear here that this is in no way due to any fault with the book; it is the book's subject matter that makes it a difficult book to pick up. But pick it up, you SHOULD!
From the moment we start reading, we know, we can literally feel, that June is living a terrible nightmare. Her step mom and sister by marriage torture her, and her dad apparently has no clue. Sadly, June is subjected to similar abuse at school. Yet, nowhere does anyone around her think to inquire about her situation.
Her abuse began when her dad remarried, when June was only 9 or 10. The book follows June from this point, until her early 20s. It was a thing of awe-inspiring beauty, to watch June grow, to stand beside her as she did her best to cope. It was also maddening, seeing the same missed opportunities for help that she saw. At times, I wanted to scream at some of these "mandated reporters," such as nurses, teachers, etc., etc.
Yes, this is a story of how June's entire world failed her again and again and again. And yet it is also a story about June's ceaseless fight to hold onto her sanity throughout, and to embrace joy wherever she caught even the slightest glimpse of its existence. It's a story of human nature, of the past repeating itself, time and again, until something happens to break that cycle. It questions our assumptions. It tests us, setting us up to feel this way or that about a character, then makes us reevaluate the criteria we utilize in making such decisions about people: whom to like, whom to dislike; who is basically GOOD, and who is NOT; ARE some people BORN evil? Or are we in fact all born GOOD?? Do we ever truly know ANYONE???
I remember, about a week ago, this book came through my feed. Someone had posted that this book was the most depressing story they've ever read. Well, that was enough to spark my interest. And I am so grateful that I found this compellingly readable, heartbreaking, and inspiring novel. I finished it in only 3 sittings.
Clearly, this novel threw me for a loop. It managed to keep surprising me to the very last page. Terrifically executed. Such perfect economy with words. Everything was evoked so vividly, I felt present in the story. An intense read, to be sure.
However, it's not for everyone. In these gory days, there's nothing in here you've not seen before, I'm guessing, however the scenes where June was victimized did become increasingly difficult to read. Not so much because of explicit language ... these people were just CRUEL. OVER AND OVER. I liked June more with every page I read, so that contributed as well. If child abuse is your RAGE button, this may not be the book for you.
Lisa Heathfield has the ability to take me from feeling happy, smiling and full of hope to sobbing like my heart just can't take any more, all in just a few pages. The characters she creates are so real, their lives so tragic yet at the same time they see the beauty in all things. Her words remind me how important life and family is and to always have compassion and regard for others. Quite simply I'm in awe of how easily her words reach inside me and turn my emotions upside down.
Paper Butterflies is a tragic, beautiful and heart breaking read. I was doubtful when picking it up that it could come anywhere close to Lisa's previous book Seed, which is one of my favourite books, one that has stuck with me and that I recommend to almost everyone, since I read it back in November 2014. I wasn't disappointed and Paper Butterflies has joined Seed on my favourites shelf.
The book covers sensitive topics like Seed but at the same time is so different. The characters feel real and genuine and I got to know and love many of them and will miss them now I have finished the book. The story is told from the point of view of June, a young girl who experiences abuse at the hands of her step-mother. You can feel her hurt, her anger and feelings of hopelessness and you just want to reach inside the pages and make everything better.
I couldn't put the book down. I was up all night, my emotions all over the place, hankie at the ready and trying to sniff quietly in case I woke anyone. I experienced everything from joy, anger, tears, hope, every emotion you could possibly imagine and the world around me faded out of existence while the book was in my hands.
Highly recommend and another book that will stick with me long after I finished reading.