Green Giants is my feature where I share some of my favourite books by Irish Authors. I’m passionate about Irish Authors, they supply us with a great and exciting mix of books, hopefully you will find something new to try. Today it’s Maureen White who is my latest Green Giant and whose young adult novel (The Butterfly Shell) really impressed me.
This is a book that I think should be handed out to all first year students on the first day of secondary school. It is just so reassuring and it lets you know loud and clear that you are not alone in feeling awkward or in thinking that you are an outsider. Or if you are on the other side of the schoolyard pack, it would make you think about the power of your words and about how dangerous being apathetic can be.
The Butterfly Shell by Maureen White
Published by The O'Brien Press on August 3rd 2015
Genres: Young Adult
Source: Received from Publisher
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There are some things about me you should know.
1. I always wear my butterfly shell - even when I’m swimming or sleeping
2. I don’t cut myself anymore
3. I believe in ghosts.
I'd better start at the beginning. The beginning of First Year. Here goes …
Marie loves reading, hates Rachel and her gang, The Secret Six, and isn’t sure how she feels about Stella, who’s more than a little odd.
Between the mean girls tormenting her by day and a ghostly cry waking her at night, Marie’s first year at secondary school was far from what she had expected …
The story of a strange year and a very special shell.
First Line of The Butterfly Shell by Maureen White:
“First. There are a few things about me you should know. “
My Thoughts on The Butterfly Shell by Maureen White:
I loved the simplicity of this book. It is quiet, very easy to relate to and as it unfolds it becomes surprisingly powerful. The language flows easily but it feels very poignant and a simple sentence can hit you hard. It makes me think the depth is in the simplicity.
“And then the others would all laugh as if they were the funniest people they had ever met. I think the laughing was the worst part.”
It tackles the topics of bullying View Spoiler »and cutting « Hide Spoiler with flair and authenticity. The main character is Marie and she has just started secondary school. She is bookish, loves words and is made to feel like an outsider. Everybody else just seemed to know how to fit in instantly to the flow of secondary school life and into little niches of friends. Except Marie.
I loved how this book really reminded me just how much every little thing mattered when I was that age. What can seem irrelevant to an adult is huge to some one of that age, it hurts more, you feel it more, everything is just more. As a reader, I took on the weight of her worries and it all felt very real to me.
Marie is finely and fully drawn. I just found her story to be poignant and heart-felt. She is trying with all her might to both fit in and to also stay loyal to her values. And it captured all the feels and uncertainties of being in a new stage of your life.
I also loved that there were loads of allusions to other books during this book. Including one to Faithful Place by Tana French. I had a fan-girl moment when I saw that! I love spotting allusions and it created another connection between me and Marie who was reading these books.
Overall I fully appreciated that this book tackles important issues in a sensitive but still uncomfortable way. You shouldn’t be able to read a book like this without feeling emotionally invested and I for one felt Marie’s angst. But it wasn’t done in a whiney-angsty-overdramatic tone, it got the balance just right. Very impressive and well worth the read.
|Did I feel it?|
Who should read The Butterfly Shell by Maureen White?
I’d highly recommend this to readers of 11 to 14 as I think that will be the age group to empathise and identify most with the main character. It is also a good reminder to parents of the issues facing teenagers and just how it felt to that age. Also recommended to those who like books that deal with realistic teenage issues in an authentic and relatable way.
Thanks to The O’Brien Press for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.