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Posted May 29, 2010
I am a fan of coming of age stories, and the premise of BUTTERFLY sounded like it would be a good one. I almost decided not to even finish this one in the beginning, because the some of the wording was so strange. I wasn't sure if that was because this is written by an Australian author, or because it takes place in the early 80's. But I continued on, and I found Hartnett's writing to be beautiful. Her writing is poignant and lyrical. She makes the most mundane thing sound exciting.
Plum, the main character, is just turning fourteen. She is about as awkward as you can get at that age. She has horrible self image, and is uncomfortable with the changes her body is going through.She obsesses a great amount about her body. Her so called friends treat her like she is the least important in the group. Some parts were tough for me to read, because I felt Plum's self consciousness and self doubt as if it were my own. Puberty is a hard stage for anyone to go through, something I never want to go through again. Through Plum, Hartnett shows an honest representation of being that age.
Plum also has two older brothers that she adores. But they tend to be mysterious with her. She also friends a woman by the name of Maureen next door, who is a wife and a mother. Maureen is a poised woman. She is exactly what Plum wants to be like some day. Maureen and Plum's brothers all tie into this story, and they have secrets that shatter Plum's images of them. I was surprised to see that the story switched from Plum's, to her brother's, to Maureen's point of view. This book seems to be a cross between YA and Adult. With the brothers and Maureen's POVs, you see adults dealing with adult situations. With Plum's POV, you see a young teenage girl trying to make sense of the world. Hartnett broke the barrier here, and I appreciate that kind of bravery in a writer.
BUTTERFLY was somewhat painful to read at times, but it showed an honest and realistic look at growing up. It shows the truth, that we all have to be the awkward caterpillar before we can be the beautiful butterfly. I am glad I decided to keep reading, because I would have been missing out on a great read if I didn't.
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Posted April 13, 2012
Posted February 7, 2011
BUTTERFLY, by Sonya Hartnett, brings you to a time when everything sucks, you can never be good enough and most of all you just want to be liked by everyone; that time was when you were 14 years-old like Plum in Butterfly. Plum doesn't like too much about herself, she collects trinkets that remind her of people she wishes she were more like, and she finds a fast friend in an older woman who gives her advice she thinks will make her better. This is a truly wondrous coming of age story of the typical insecure young girl.
I picked Butterfly from a list and was expecting a girl finding herself through harsh times but this is truly a coming of age tale. Ariella "Plum" Coyle doesn't want to be herself; she wants to be prettier, thinner, and of course more popular. She thinks all of those impossible until she meets Maureen who is more entwined with her family than she realizes. Maureen promises Plum what she wants if she'll do this or change her name to that, but when Plum's friends just begin to like her and Maureen's advice seems foolproof shocking discoveries are made and Plum's world falls apart.
I find that Sonya Hartnett is able to capture the pure hell that a young teenage girl must endure just to be happy. Plum faces everything that a 14 year-old must face. Problems with how she looks, not being popular enough, not being able to be yourself. Plum puts a smile on for people she doesn't honestly like but is desperate for them to like her. Like anybody Plum wants to fit in. She finds refuge in her brothers, Justin and Cyder but finds that sometimes you cannot even trust the ones you truly do love.
I have not read any of Sonya Hartnett's other novels but I wil be looking in to them. This novel is easily comparable to J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye but set in modern time from a less cultured young girl point of view. I was astounded at how accurately Hartnett was able to capture the evilness and snippiness of Plum's 'friends'. Overall this book is absolutely terrific. You'll find yourself wanting to help guide Plum away from the bad people and easily avoidable messes.