24 Great Books in 2016: Day Sixteen

I’m regretting committing to posting every day, just a little bit. There are days when it’s genuinely difficult for me to pull any post together, and I think a posting schedule of every other day would have worked much better for me. However, I have committed to it, so I’m sticking to it. It’s also getting me in good habits for once advent is over, so hopefully I will make this a properly active blog, and I do love seeing the likes and comments from people reading it, so thank you. My next target for myself is to get into the habit of reading and commenting on other people’s posts, which I’m not great at at the moment. Feel free to follow me on twitter @donnamk79 though, where you will have trouble getting me to shut up!

That provides a nice segue into talking about today’s book, which is Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield. For June, the lead character, shutting up is something she has learned to do in order to protect herself as much as she can from her vicious stepmother.

Warning: Contains mentions of child abuse.


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?

Paper Butterflies was another one of those difficult books to read. June’s life is horrific. There isn’t really another word for it. Throughout the book, June is systematically physically, emotionally and verbally abused. She’s previously tried to tell people what’s happening, but Kathleen, her stepmother, is manipulative enough that everyone thinks June is a liar. Her father doesn’t see what’s going on. The only happiness she has is with Blister and his family, who are the complete opposites of her own family. And then something terrible happens, and she even loses that.

I really liked the way the book was structured with the switches between the before and after sections, and the way we got to see June and Blister grow up, and grow closer. It gave me an excellent understanding of the characters’ feelings, and I even felt sorry for Megan, June’s stepsister and co-tormentor. It’s quite clear that she is also a victim of her mother and I thought Heathfield did well to show that, even while Megan is helping to make June’s life terrible. Blister’s family, on the other hand, is wonderful, and they clearly love June as much as if she were their own. I would have loved to have spent more time with them.

As I said above, the story is hard, so hard to read, but it’s also so worthwhile. You will be filled with rage at what happens to June, and filled with love for Blister, but it sends you off with a feeling of hope, and I think that’s really important.


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