Paper Butterflies – Lisa Heatherfield


‘”Drink it.” She’s holding the glass out to me. It’s so full that if she tipped her hand just a bit it would trickle down the side. “Now”
“But I’m not thirsty.” I want my voice to be big, but it’s just a whisper.


15.40 - Paper Butterflies - Animal in the title

June’s life at home with her stepmother and stepsister is a dark one – and a secret one. Not even her father knows about it. She’s trapped like a butterfly in a net.
But then she meets Blister, a boy in the woods. And in him, June recognises the tiniest glimmer of hope that perhaps she can find a way to fly far, far away from home and be free. Because every creature in this world deserves their freedom . . . but at what price?


What I thought:

This is a hard one, it was an easy read in the sense that I read it in a day (on the way to work, at lunch and on the way home) but it was also incredibly difficult due to the subject matter. Abuse is always going to be a difficult subject but this was different, it felt more intimate. The ‘normal’ types of abuse are physical or mental in the sense of constantly knocking their self confidence or making small jabs. This fell in both categories but was more than that. June is constantly hearing from her step-mother about how ugly she is (because she’s mixed race and looks like her dark skinned mother), she’s not only force fed so she puts weight on, but she’s fed dog food and made to eat from a dog bowl as well as being forced to wet herself which then leads to more harsh words and comments by her step-mother and her step sister.
But June’s bike gives her a form of freedom, after meeting Blister and being welcomed by his family the pair of teenagers spend their weekends cycling everywhere possible desperate to get away from their lives and to not have to worry about the family at home. Blister’s got a brother with cystic fybrosis and a large family with not much money causing them to have to scrounge wherever they can and fit 7 of them into a 3 bed house.

The chapters are split into a ‘Before’ and ‘After’ and it’s about two thirds of the way through the book when the incident happens and everything is after. And I didn’t see it coming. June spends the ‘after’ talking to a priest about if she’s able to get over the abuse and forgive her father for bringing her abuser into their family and not noticing what was happening. I’m not going to say what I thought had happened or what did because that would spoil it but those bits raise really interesting questions about forgiveness and if there is anything that cannot be forgiven.

It’s beautifully written, you can feel the relief coming off the page when June is with Blister and his family (the parents have strong suspicions about what is going on but June refuses to tell them anything every time they ask) as well as the love between all of them. June is as close to adopted into their home as possible. The contrast between that and the intensity of the abuse when she is ‘home’ is startling, and then dotted with a page and a half or so of ‘after’ talking about peace and forgiveness. The constant changing of tone along with the setting allows an understanding of what June is going through that I don’t think you would have been able to get in other ways. You can almost physically feel the moment that June feels safe or unsafe.

Why I read it:

This was given to me by my friend who works at the bookshop, he was getting rid of a umber of ARCs that he had so I took a large pile from him. A week before we were going to meet up I realised I had only read one in the three weeks since I’d previously seen him so grabbed the first book from him determined to read more before I saw him.
Murphey’s Law says we had to cancel that meeting and I haven’t seen him since mid January when I started this blog and last saw him.

Final Thoughts:

Saying I enjoyed this book sounds wrong because of the subject matter. But I am glad I read it. It’s beautifully written and I’m thankful that I was given it. I want to read the author’s other book as well which is all about growing up in a cult.

Would I recommend it? This is difficult, I would definitely suggest it more some people if they wanted a dark book and enjoyed YA. But I would warn them that it’s not for those with a faint heart. I do think though that if you can stomach it then you should give it a read.


Popsugar: About mental health, a book you borrowed/given as a gift, animal in the title, published in 2018, problem facing society today.


As always let me know if my review makes you intrigued or if you’ve read it. The couple of comments I get always make me smile and it would be great to get more.

TaTa for now.


P.S As I write this the photo on the home page for ‘Princess Bride’ is the ‘Paper Butterflies’ one. I’m not sure why this is and have tried to fix it more than once.

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