4 Feb 2009

Butterfly

by Sonya Hartnett
Hamish Hamilton
9780241015421

Sonya Hartnett's novels are read by adults and young adults alike, and her first novel since being awarded the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (March 2008) will no doubt appeal to an audience well beyond the age of the protagonist. 

Set in 1980s suburban Australia, Butterfly tells the story of Plum Coyle, later dubbed Aria, fast approaching her fourteenth birthday, after which she hopes that her old life, awkward body, and best friends (her worst enemies) will be a thing of her past. Plum's charming and glamorous neighbour Maureen, a wife and mother, soon becomes a coveted friend, but for reasons that Plum is initially oblivious. Maureen, recognising her sadness, reassures Plum that she understands her plight, telling her that she is strong and beautiful, even capable of becoming a fashion model. When she's with Maureen, Plum feels like the girl she had always wanted to be. 

Plum is faced with more tribulations when her friends turn on her (for good reason), ruining her birthday party, and again when she discovers Maureen's secret - a secret with the potential to tear Plum's family apart. 

Butterfly is beautifully written and cleverly expresses the trials of early adolescence, and dynamics of Plum's loving family versus her tentative place in the schoolyard.

by Kristy