Leah Langley, takes us on a journey through the world of all things fiction to review the book ‘Paper Butterflies’ by Lisa Heathfield.
Lisa Heathfield wrote the compelling YA debut, Seed, and now she is back with another enthralling novel, Paper Butterflies, which was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2017 and the Waterstones Children’s Prize.
This story depicts the life of June from her early childhood to her young adult years, exploring the “Before” and “After” aspects of a truly life changing event. June resides with her stepmother, Kathleen; her stepsister, Megan; and her father. Kathleen is abusive and subjects June to vengeful torture, possible with the help of Megan. June’s father fails to realise what is going on and is completely oblivious to the torment his daughter is suffering. Further to the abuse that June suffers at home, she is also taunted daily at school as she is black but attends a principally white school. The only freedom that June gets comes from Blister, her secret friend, and his, somewhat, unconventional family.
The flaws in the authority system are highlighted as it becomes clear just how many people have let June down, resulting in catastrophic consequences. Although the main focus of the book is the abuse of June, you are prompted to examine just what it was that started the violence between Kathleen and Megan, and you can’t help but feel slightly sympathetic for the pair.
Although it is a hard read at times this book focuses on some very real issues and secrets within society and begins to open the door on them and bring them into the light. I found myself frantically turning the pages wanting to uncover what June was encountering next, and constantly questioning what more could happen to this poor girl.
This book, and June’s story, will stay with me forever; it was heart wrenching and a complete emotional rollercoaster that has completely changed the way that I view life. I cannot wait for the future works of Heathfield and look forward to getting lost in more stories like June’s.
Paper Butterflies took me on a journey and is something that I cannot rave about enough! I can't wait to read similar books and the other future works of Heathfield.