Review: Paper Butterflies

Paper Butterflies
Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book made me feel like I was the one abused instead of June. I read warnings in other reviews that I shouldn’t read this if I’m not in a good emotional place or if I’m sensitive to scenes of abuse. I ignored the warnings, because the story was intriguing. God, they weren’t even exaggerating!

It’s rare for a novel to make me feel so emotionally connected that I’m almost convinced that it’s a reality. I was so angry and anxious as I read this that I wasn’t sure if I could finish it. I decided that I HAD to know how it ended, so I pushed through, especially during the abuse scenes. I’m so glad that I finished it and now I feel stronger for having read it. I feel like a true survivor of abuse.

This is hard to rate. Part of me wants to give it one star for making me feel so broken and another part of me wants to give it five stars for having the writing talent to evoke that feeling. It would be insulting to give it three stars, so I’m going with four.

I don’t know how many times I wanted to hurt Kathleen, yell at Megan, June’s father, and her classmates. I wanted to beat Kathleen within an inch of her life. I had to fight back the tears so many times. I had to keep reminding myself this isn’t happening to me. I can’t even give examples of some of the abuse June faced. I just don’t want to relive it.

Thank God for June’s friend Blister. He was such a savior and the most amazing friend you could ever imagine. It was such a blessing for June to meet him on that day. I don’t think June could have endured years of abuse without Blister on her side.

I really understood June. She was so terrified that she couldn’t speak up, except she did tell Blister some of it. I know what it feels like to be paralyzed with fear and feeling like everyone around you is ganging up on you. She faced abuse at home and bullying at school. Going to Blister’s house was her only reprieve.

”It wasn’t about courage. You had that. It was about opportunity and faith in human nature. Yet your faith in that was being destroyed.”

June’s classmates would steal, put the stolen items in her book bag, and then tell school officials that they saw June steal it. Nobody believed her. That’s one of my biggest fears in life, being framed for a crime I didn’t commit and not being able to prove my innocence. I’ve had more than one nightmare about that.

”Sometimes, people are blind to what’s right in front of them,” he says calmly.

This story brought up memories that I didn’t want to recall. My story isn’t nearly as bad as June’s is, but I’ve had my own traumatic experiences. I had relatives say and do hurtful things (physically hurtful things) to me only to be told, Jenny, stop being oversensitive. You need thicker skin. You need to learn to speak up to them. It’s your fault they treat you that way. You. You. You. Jenny, it’s all your fault. God, I just want to fucking scream! Sorry, the soap boxing is over.

My mind is still racing from this. I can’t seem to shut off those imagines in my mind. Granted, I feel like I’m suffering from PTSD after reading Paper Butterflies, I don’t regret reading it one bit. If you can endure a story of abuse, it’s worth reading. Just prepare yourself.

”Suffering produces endurance,” he reads. “And endurance produces character and character produces hope.” I feel his hand gently on my back. “And hope does not put us to shame.”

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