Butterfly

Butterfly

3.3 3
by Sonya Hartnett
     
 

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Growing up during the 1980s in the safe complacency of the Australian suburbs, Plum Coyle should be happy. But on the cusp of her fourteenth birthday - and on the fringe of her peer group - she lives in terror of the disapproval of her cruel and fickle girlfriends, and most of all, she hates her awkward, changing body with a passion.

So when Plum's

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Overview

Growing up during the 1980s in the safe complacency of the Australian suburbs, Plum Coyle should be happy. But on the cusp of her fourteenth birthday - and on the fringe of her peer group - she lives in terror of the disapproval of her cruel and fickle girlfriends, and most of all, she hates her awkward, changing body with a passion.

So when Plum's glamorous next-door neighbour Maureen, a young wife and mother, befriends Plum, Plum responds with worshipful fervour. Plum feels herself reinvented. With Maureen, she becomes the girl she's always wanted to be. But Maureen has an ulterior motive for taking Plum under her wing . . .


Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hartnett eviscerates modern suburban life in this blistering story of broken families, buried secrets, and foundering lives. Plum Coyle is almost 14 and terrifically insecure, with two older brothers, Justin and Cydar, who love her but are as emotionally helpless as Plum and their parents. Plum prepares for her 14th birthday, desperately trying to stay afloat with a set of friends who are ready to pounce on the slightest vulnerability, and befriends an older neighbor, Maureen, but cruelties and pain are never far away. Plum's secrets are humiliatingly revealed, as are those of Justin and Maureen. Hartnett's exquisite prose is soaked in visceral descriptions of consumerism, human weakness, and an ugliness that lies just below the surface of everyday life; the closest the book comes to offering a moment of hope is when Cydar, by far the most self-aware character, sacrifices to purchase Plum the birthday gift she wants more than anything--a television. It would be easy to dismiss Hartnett's story as misanthropic, yet it's not so much contemptuous of humanity than of what it has become. Ages 14–up. (Aug.)
VOYA - Rachel Wadham
Thirteen-year-old Plum Coyle is a child on the cusp of becoming a woman. Longing to fit in with her friends, Plum works hard to gain their attention, only to find herself on the outside. Believing that things could be better if her body were more beautiful and her family less eccentric, Plum is drawn into a friendship with her married neighbor, Maureen, who convinces her that the glamour she desires is easily attainable. Maureen, however, is having an affair with Plum's older brother Justin, and when this betrayal is revealed, Plum finds herself with little support as she must decide the type of person she really wants to become. With heavy language, lavish imagery, and a psychological focus, Hartnett's novel is, stylistically, a piece of literary fiction—a genre not often seen in the cannons of young adult literature. While the promotion of the novel aims for this audience, the novel very clearly spans the YA and adult market. By alternating voices between Plum, Maureen, Justin and Plum's other brother, Cydar, the work loses much of its teen appeal as youth will not respond to the raw emotions and relationships of the prominent adult characters. Much of the description is overwritten with too many metaphors that make little sense, another factor that will not appeal to teens. While many will praise this novel for its emotional depth and lavish style, many others, including teen audiences, will not be able to connect to what the author offers. Reviewer: Rachel Wadham
Children's Literature - Jody Little
Plum is about to turn fourteen, and she struggles to ease her self-doubts and build her confidence. She is unhappy with her body. She wonders if her school friends really like her at all. She feels their meanness. She wonders about her two beloved older brothers, Justin and Cyder. She senses they are hiding secrets and pulling away from her. When next door neighbor, Maureen, befriends Plum, she feels a surge of self-worth. Maureen encourages her to throw out her lunch in order to lose weight. She tells Plum that perhaps she is too good for her friends. What Plum does not know is that Maureen is having an affair with her brother, Justin—an affair that Justin wants desperately to end. With the support of Maureen and some precious items that Plum stores in a hidden briefcase, Plum's strength grows and she plans her upcoming birthday party. The night of Plum's party does not go as planned. When Plum finally shares what happened at the party with Maureen, she is relieved to hear that Maureen still believes she is a good person. Written in astonishingly beautiful, poetic prose, Hartnett takes readers on a journey through the minds and actions of four complex characters. Themes of self-worth, family dysfunction, and the agonies of personal secrets fill this rich young adult novel. Reviewer: Jody Little
School Library Journal
Gr 5–9—Using her characteristic surprising and spot-on descriptions, Hartnett drops the usual intensity down a notch or two in this tale. While events seem to be taking place in a recent past, Plum is like every teen in her emotional upheavals, her yearning to fit into a group, and her obliviousness to the feelings of those around her. The narrative mostly focuses on Plum herself, her older brothers Justin and Cydar, and their interactions with a neighbor, Maureen, and her young child. Plum, who is young for her almost 14 years, has a collection of mundane objects that she treats as talismans to keep her safe from day-to-day humiliation by her so-called friends, girls who either taunt and tease or ignore her. Maureen, who is in her mid-30s, offers sage advice and support, but readers know that her motivations for helping Plum are questionable. The situation comes to a head at the girl's birthday slumber party. Her parents and brothers truly love her but are incapable of advising her adequately and generally watch her suffering helplessly. The deliberate pacing, insight into teen angst, and masterful word choice make this a captivating read to savor.—Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library, CO

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763651930
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
08/24/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
830,859
Lexile:
860L (what's this?)
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
14 Years

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