Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Butterfly by Sonya Hartnett (2.5/5)

The back says: Awkward, alienated, angry teenager Plum looks in the mirror, and hates what she sees. No one appreciates her - least of all herself. But when a beautiful, sophisticated neighbour invites Plum over, things change. Plum learns how to be different.

But the new Plum confuses people. Her friends treat her differently. Her brothers and parents don't know what to make of her. And for Plum and her new mentor, the transformation has unforeseen consequences that neither will ever forget...

I say: It’s been a while since I read this and the memory I have of it isn’t very pleasant. I quite like reading YA when it’s well written and has an interesting enough plot. Unfortunately this didn’t.

Or rather, it started out well enough but then became slightly absurd.

At first I sympathised with Plum. She considers herself to be ugly and fat, and the girls she hangs out with at school don’t like her and treat her really badly. At home, she feels like nobody is listening to her, and spends her time in her room touching different objects and repeating some weird incantation.

In other words, your quite typical misplaced, nobody-understands-me, youth.

It is when she becomes friends with the neighbour and starts babysitting her son that I feel the plot starting to go off the rails. I honestly don’t understand Hartnett’s intentions with this friendship at first, as everything comes across as contrived. And it’s not until the end that I realise why she made these two people become friends, and when that became clear I was already checked out of the story, but it still annoyed me.

It’s like she introduced them just so that she would be able to make some sort of punch line at the end.

I don’t have that much to say about the writing; it got the job done. I’m giving it a 2.5/5 because there were some instances with Plum’s brothers that I actually enjoyed, as well as the fact that Hartnett did a good job on depicting how cruel girls can be.


  1. Ugh, I really, really don't like plots where you don't really understand why things are happening the way that they are happening. I'll stay away from this one!

    1. Yeah, I like my fiction understandable and realistic. It's a shame she had to put in the neighbour in the story, it was fine up until that point. Ah well...