Thanks to O’Brien Press for sending me a copy of The Butterfly Shell to review. The book will be launched in The Gutter Bookshop on August 26th at 6.30pm.
The Butterfly Shell
O’Brien Press, 2015
Marie is going into her first year of secondary school, and is finding it hard to settle in. She is being targeted by a group of girls who call themselves the Super Six. The Super Six, and their leader Rachel in particular, torment Marie and make school a nightmare for her. Stella is a potential friend, but she is very odd and Marie doesn’t quite know what to make of her. At home, things are also difficult. Marie is haunted by the memory of a sister who died before she was born. Her mum never got over the loss of her first baby, and Marie has started to hear her sister crying at night. Marie is totally miserable, and has begun to self-harm.
Maureen White explores bullying, loss and self-harm in a way that is honest and sensitive. Her depiction of how the Super Six torment Marie in school is very realistic. She shows how harmful their actions are, but also how devious they are in coming up with new ways to get to Marie. Marie is a very believable character, with a convincing voice. Her openness and honesty allow us get into her head and reading the book can be upsetting because of this. I also really liked Stella, a quirky character I would like to have see more of. I think the ghostly element was handled very well, and that it sat well with the rest of the novel.I felt the book could have been longer, the end came very quickly and I think the conclusion could have been expanded upon. However, Maureen White deserves much praise for her sensitive handling of the topics in this book, and I am always glad to see a new talent in Irish children’s fiction.
The Butterfly Shell is a quiet and honest read, which I think young teens will really enjoy.