Last Kiss of the Butterfly by Jill Hucklesby
|Last Kiss of the Butterfly by Jill Hucklesby|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A sad but evocative story of one girl's summer with her mother. Emotionally valid and with moments of piercing sweetness, the language can be a little overblown and the central character seems older than her thirteen years.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: August 2008|
Jaz loves tae kwon do. It's helped her deal with the frustrations of her dyslexia and she loses her temper less than she did. It's also helped her deal with the panics caused by her mother's illness. Anna, a concert cellist, is in remission from cancer. It's been a tough time for the Ballantynes of late, but it's looking as though things are finally beginning to turn the corner. Jaz is happy with her group of friends, the Urban Chicks, her martial arts are going well, and Mum's getting better at last. What could go wrong?
A summer cooped up in the country, that's what. Jaz's mother wants to spend some time alone with her, doing all the things they should have been doing while she was ill. It's understandable. And while Jaz loves her mother with an intense passion, she's also a teenager. She doesn't want to miss out. She doesn't want to be separated from her friends for weeks. And so it's with a heavy heart that she packs up her stuff and heads to the wastes of rural life. More is waiting for her there than she could ever have imagined. There's Ethan, for starters, a strange, wild boy. There are dolphins. There are beautiful blue butterflies. And there's also a terrible storm brewing.
The Last Kiss of the Butterfly is a beautiful story of the focal summer in an adolescent girl's life. It's full of indescribable joy and awful pain, and it's one that will shape the rest of her life. Jaz is confused and afraid, but she's also determined and dogged and open to possibility. She's devoted to her parents and dependent on them, but she's also intensely aware that it's time to start thinking about independence. Ethan, the boy of the marshes, excites her interest, and she finds him a challenge. But behind everything this summer, lurks the threat of her mother's illness. It makes every moment more significant somehow.
I loved reading it, and it's a very internal experience. Angsty adolescents will love it, as will intelligent readers, sensitive readers and those with their own feet on the path to independence. There's a hugely romantic feel to it and every thought, every action, every impression is studied in great depth. This does mean the language is occasionally overblown which may put off some readers, but will attract a good few too.
Jaz seemed to me to be too old for her years - Hucklesby makes her thirteen, but her sophistication of thought and the social life she enjoys with her friends puts her a couple of years older for me. Teen readers generally prefer to read about characters the same age or slightly older than them, and I do think this is a minor problem. How many fifteen year-old boys gently fold thirteen year-old girls into their arms? Make it seventeen and fifteen and it sounds much more credible, doesn't it? And I don't think fifteen year-old girls are any less scared about cancer than thirteen year-olds.
But Jaz's age is a minor nitpick in an otherwise intense and highly emotional reading experience.
My thanks to the nice people at Orchard for sending the book.
Mortality is also the central theme of the wonderful Before I Die by Jenny Downham.
You can read more book reviews or buy Last Kiss of the Butterfly by Jill Hucklesby at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Last Kiss of the Butterfly by Jill Hucklesby at Amazon.com.
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