Paper Butterflies - Lisa Heathfield

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’m finally catching up on my reviews that I didn’t do last year, so here’s one of my favourites.
Paper Butterflies was one of the most thought-provoking books that I read in 2016. It follows the story of June, and abused child, and her search for friendship and an escape from the abuse she experiences at home. And it’s important to point out that June is black. In 2016, I wanted to read more books with POC main characters, and none of them disappointed me. Especially not this one.
Abuse is rarely found in YA, and when it is, a lot of the time it’s so teenage angst-y that it’s painful to read. Paper Butterflies surprised me with the serious view on the topic, and the truthful presentation, giving the harsh reality of a child living in an abusive household with family who are ignorant to the abuse. It focuses on the idea of love blurring the thoughts of June’s father, meaning he can’t see abuse because he loves her stepmother too much, and also a half sibling who is manipulated into abuse. The topic is hard to handle, and honestly, at some points, downright terrifying that it can happen, but Heathfield presents it in a way that is accessible to teens, and a good read.
I’m not going to pretend it was an easy read. I read it in less than a day because I got so into it, but it was sad. I like sad books, don’t get me wrong, but if you read this, read it where no one can see you sob like a baby.
Would I categorize this as YA? Yes. It is fundamentally Young Adult fiction. But I wouldn’t limit this book to teens. I feel like this is essential reading for any age, and enjoyable for any age. It has such important topics that it can’t be ignored just because it is aimed at teens.
Overall, go buy this book! It is one of the few books that I could talk for years about, and I need people to talk to about it! It needs to be read more widely, as it is just such an interesting plot. (And have you seen the cute cover?!)
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