I love books that demonstrate frailty. Not desperation, or heartbreak…those are a dime a dozen, but true, genuine, all together skrewed-up-ed-ness. The truth of reality is that we are not all perfect, as a matter of fact we are all irrevocably flawed in one way or another. This is what makes us so damn interesting. We all have habits, quirks, rules that we live our lives by, knowingly or unknowingly…it’s just a fact of life. It is, (in short) our existence.
For Lo it numbers, and kleptomania.
“Penelope (Lo) Marin has always loved to collect beautiful things. Her dad’s consulting job means she’s grown up moving from one rundown city to the next, and she’s learned to cope by collecting (sometimes even stealing) quirky trinkets and souvenirs in each new place–possessions that allow her to feel at least some semblance of home.
But in the year since her brother Oren’s death, Lo’s hoarding has blossomed into a full-blown, potentially dangerous obsession. She discovers a beautiful, antique butterfly pendant during a routine scour at a weekend flea market, and recognizes it as having been stolen from the home of a recently murdered girl known only as “Sapphire”–a girl just a few years older than Lo. As usual when Lo begins to obsess over something, she can’t get the murder out of her mind.
As she attempts to piece together the mysterious “butterfly clues,” with the unlikely help of a street artist named Flynt, Lo quickly finds herself caught up in a seedy, violent underworld much closer to home than she ever imagined–a world, she’ll ultimately discover, that could hold the key to her brother’s tragic death.”
Before I talk about the plot, I want to talk about Lo. Being the main character in this book her foot hold is a strong one in the telling of this compelling YA mystery, and with her almost debilitating OCD, and kleptomania, (which is fueled by loss) Kate Ellison character development is a tad unconventional.
Like I said above, Lo has a thing for numbers. The number 3 to be exact, and all of it’s varying multiples. She is convinced they determine the outcome of actions, that they, (the numbers that is) exists in two different worlds…Good vs Evil, and if handled or counted incorrectly will have damaging results. The obsessive counting results in obsessive behaviors such as having to touch things 3 times, having to bow 9 times, or having to tap on her thigh, add this to her kleptomania and she makes for a slightly neurotic but loveable and REAL character.
Here is a good example of her behavior, and more importantly…how she perceives herself, (which is where Ellison’s unconventional character building comes to light. Through self-awareness/loathing versus social assessment and dialogue.)
“Flynt flashes me a big, toothy grin before jogging away toward the dumpster. I feel oddly comfortable here, among my own kind – the weird and the forgotten, the invisible and ignored. At school, I’m the girl who eats plain grape jelly sandwiches wrapped in tinfoil, alone on the front lawn, or in the library when it gets too cold outside. I’m the girl who can’t enter or exit the bus, school, class, without tapping and banana-ing, the girl who doesn’t raise her hand when she knows the answer because if she did, she’d have to put it back against her desk and raise it again and repeat. Three times, or six, or nine – depending on a while host of other factors she could not control – how many words were in the question, how many other people had raised their hands, how many times the person in front of me had scratched the top of her head. I’m the girl who cannot shower after gym class because she’d have to do that, too, at least three times and, by the time she finished, the school day would have ended.”
As for the other characters in the book, we are introduced to them because of, (or in some cases in spite of) her uncontrollable actions.
So how does her disease affect the plot? Well…because of her OCD she is hyper aware. She notices when things are off balance or missing, she pays attention to the things people say, even if they are unaware that she is listening, and she can’t sit still.
When it comes right down to brass tacks, (seriously hate that phrase…don’t know why I’m using it.) “The Butterfly Clues” is a murder mystery. Lo finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time and almost looses her life because of it. But, instead of moving on and forgetting her near miss she becomes tangled up in this sick need to find out what really happen to the girl that was murdered. It’s twisty, it’s turny, it introduces you to the dark side of urban life in a very unique and fascinating way, and, more importantly, has a very compelling ending, (that honestly made up for it’s overall length which I believe could have been cut by about 50 pages.)
But…when all of the bloody cats, (yes, you can thank me for that visual) and brutish bouncers are nudged to the side it’s about a girl who needs to except who she is in order to move past a moment in her life that she insist defines her. We are never harsher than in reference to ourselves are we?
Overall, a interesting book that would do well for “light” mystery readers and “some” YA fans. I have a feeling this one is ultimately a hit or miss. If you are fascinated by psychological behavior, this one might hold your interest, if all you want is to feel good and hear “I love you” you might want to pass.
Happy Reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: You are perfect…just the way you are.