Green Giants! Irish Author Book Review : The Butterfly Shell by Maureen White

September 23, 2015 Book review, Green Giants 9 ★★★★½

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.

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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.


Green Giants!  Irish Author Book Review : The Butterfly Shell by Maureen WhiteThe Butterfly Shell by Maureen White
Published by The O'Brien Press on August 3rd 2015
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
Source: Received from Publisher
Buy on Amazon

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 » 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.


Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: four-stars


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.




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9 Responses to “Green Giants! Irish Author Book Review : The Butterfly Shell by Maureen White”

  1. Bookworm Brandee

    I love books like this – and I agree that they should be required reading for students entering certain grades. I feel this way about Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why. I think kids should understand the power of words. The Butterfly Shell sounds incredible. That it’s so realistic that you took on Marie’s worries makes for a powerful read. And I like that White has Marie stay true to herself while working at finding her place. That’s something I try to reinforce with my children. There’s only one *you*. Thanks for sharing this Green Giant, Trish. White is going on my tbr. 🙂
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…Review ~ One to Hold ~ Tia Louise ~ #ShelfLove, #COYER

    • trish

      I haven’t read Asher’s book yet but it is on my book radar as one I need to read soon. I like YA books that have powerful messages as I think they can be inspiring for younger readers and they serve as a good reminder to us too as to what it’s like to be young. I bet that’s a hard lesson to teach your children but a very worthwhile one.

    • trish

      There were so many allusions to other books and that was part of why I loved it. I could really see the main character being a book blogger and I found her very easy to relate to.

  2. Lola

    I still remember that as well how at that age every small thing seemed very big. And you feel everything more. While I enjoy reading YA books I am also happy I am not that age anymore.

    I like the sound of the main characetr beinf a reader as well and the little connections with other books, although I probably wouldn’t notice those unless it’s a book I’ve read as well.

    It sounds very well written and like it would be a good book for kids of that age that are just starting high school, it can mean so much to know that you are not alone, especially at that age. Great Review!
    Lola recently posted…Review: Damned if I Do by Erin Hayes

    • trish

      Oh me too, I’d hate to be that age and things are so much harder now for kids of that age then when I was younger. I’m so glad I grew up in a time of no social media as the pressure must be horrible.
      I think it would be great for kids of a similar age to read and I think they’d find a lot to relate to and to think about.

  3. Lark

    Sounds amazing…like one of those books that really grabs hold of you. I love books like that, especially when they tackle tough subjects with grace. I only wish my library had a copy. Maybe if I request it, they’ll buy or borrow a copy? Keep your fingers crossed. And thanks for the rec! 🙂
    Lark recently posted…A bookish trifle…

    • trish

      Fingers crossed! I loved that it had depth and dealt with serious issues and still remained so relatable. And of course I loved the bookish main character even if she was a little young to be reading Tana French!

  4. Shaina

    This one sounds lovely, and I too love seeing allusions to other books in my reading! 🙂 I think you’re spot-on when you say that everything is just so much *more* when you’re in your pre-teens/teens. I read THE FEVER by Megan Abbott over the weekend and could remember feeling things as intensely as the high school girls in the book did. I don’t feel quite that hard these days, and overall it’s a very good thing. 😉
    Shaina recently posted…The Real Good Roundup, Issue #3: The Best Posts I’ve Read Lately

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