Butterfly by Sonya Hartnett

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Butterfly by Sonya Hartnett

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Madeline Wheatley
Reviewed by Madeline Wheatley
Summary: Soon to be fourteen year old Plum has more than her share of worries. Plump, graceless and at the bottom of the pecking order among her 'friends', she really needs help. But when it arrives in the form of her glamorous neighbour Maureen the conditions attached have explosive and tragic consequences.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 224 Date: April 2009
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
ISBN: 978-0241144466

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Award winning Australian author Sonya Hartnett writes powerful, disturbing tales. This is no exception. Some of the events in this novel are extreme, yet believable, largely because of the vividly realistic character of Plum. The story takes place in an Australian suburb over the summer during which Plum has her fourteenth birthday. Her birthday party is one to remember, a uniquely mortifying event which ends when all her friends leave in disgust.

Now at this point if I were reading this review rather than writing it I would think I'm not reading that, it sounds really depressing. But you have to meet Plum. And once you have met her, you have to find out what happens to her. Hartnett has created a character who could walk off the page and into your life at any moment. Though Plum is thirteen at the start of the book this story is definitely aimed at older readers, and would make a good cross-over book for an older teenager embarking on reading adult titles.

Plum and her friends are the epitome of teenage girl groups: supportive, point scoring and domineering by turns. The scene in which the girls help Plum to get her ears pierced is apparently based on a real incident in Hartnett's own adolescence…

All the interactions between Plum and her friends ring true, and there is an immediacy to their activities that belies the fact that the book is set in the 1980's.

Some of the other characters, however, are less fully formed. Maureen's son David, in particular, struck me as a most unusual four year old. I know he is supposed to be quiet, but he is pretty much invisible in a number of scenes. In situations where only the three of them are present, Maureen is able to have extensive conversations with Plum with no interruptions from David at all. He does seem to function more as a tool to develop the plot than as a convincing character.

This reservation is more than overcome by the strength of the story Hartnett has to tell. The twisting threads of the tale create a pace that propels the reader through the book. Lock the door and turn off your phone on the day you read it – you won't want any interruptions.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion:

If you would like to try more by this outstanding author we can recommend The Ghost's Child and The Silver Donkey.

Buy Butterfly by Sonya Hartnett at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Butterfly by Sonya Hartnett at Amazon.co.uk

Buy Butterfly by Sonya Hartnett at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Butterfly by Sonya Hartnett at Amazon.com.


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