Uncomfortable, especially if you have been a fourteen year old girl

ButterflyButterfly by Sonya Hartnett

An amazing, emotional and memorable book. Sonya Hartnett has captured so much in the 200 or so pages of this book – the pain of being fourteen is very raw here. I was happy to finish it because it made me feel uncomfortable in a very familiar way. There will be many women who read this book and see themselves printed on the page.

Plum, the main character, looks at herself in the mirror and appraises her changing form with the same sense of trepidation that many girls her age face. It brought a lot of the self doubt and anxiousness I felt at that age flooding back. Plum’s 2 older brothers are both harbouring secrets and that sets events in motion that reach a heart-wrenching climax in the last few pages of the book.

Her “friends” are experts in emotional manipulation and Plum is desperate for acceptance by them. Her desperation drives her to harbour a secret of her own and it is exposed, with life-changing consequences, at her own 14th birthday party. Throughout the book, Plum develops a friendship with the older woman next door, Maureen. Plum fails to realise this is a maipulative relationship until is it too late, but she wreaks a spiteful revenge that you know is shaping her for the years to come.

I would like to re-read this novel in about 6 months, when I can distance myself from it a little better. I realise I have not given much plot information here, but I really just want to urge people to read this books for themselves, rather than divulge any more plot than I have to. If you are a woman beyond the age of 14, read it.

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