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Vine Customer Review of Free Product
The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison has some very distinctive elements that appealed to me, chief of them an obsessive-compulsive/kleptomaniac protagonist, "Lo." Written from a first person POV, the parts where the narrative delves deep into Lo's obsessive rituals, worries, fears, and compulsions are the most impressive. Lo's condition is one that I haven't seen before in young adult so in this psychological aspect The Butterfly Clues stands out in a very crowded genre.
"Here's the thing: I don't choose to take things. I have to. I've always had to do certain things, since the day I turned seven and began to insist that I wanted to stray six. I didn't know why, but seven felt off, somehow, made me feel like the world was tilting too much to one side. It wasn't so bad at first. Just little things--like the way the food looked on my plate, or needing to eat peas before chicken, or needing to put the left shoe on before the right. I started taking little things---a toothbrush or a candy bar from a store, discarded ticket stubs from the movie theater, stickers from the kids at school.
"But since Oren disappeared, it has gotten worse. A lot worse. Now, when the urge comes on, it's like this superhuman force that grips my body and won't let go until I have the thing I've spotted, the thing I need. And it's not the taking or the stealing I crave, it's the having and the keeping. Forever. With me. Safe."
When The Butterfly Clues begins, Lo is in the throes of her disorder. Although the narrative hints that her brother's, Oren's, disappearance over a year ago precipitated her condition into manifesting as full blown kleptomania and hoarding, the reader is kept in suspense as to what exactly happened. Only the aftermath is apparent: a stressed out, absent father; a heavily sedated mother; and Lo, a daughter left helpless and alone in the grip of her own demons. The exposition is subtly and expertly revealed, along with the parallel story of who killed Sapphire.
Mirroring Lo's free fall into her obsessive-compulsive ways is her descent into the underworld of drug addicts, runaways, thieves, and strip clubs called "Neverland." Ellison balances its allure, in the form of a free spirit, Flynt, with its dangers, such as Sapphire's murder. I was intrigued with Lo's exploration of Neverland and charmed by Flynt; however, I was frustrated by how Ellison depicted Lo's clumsy and unrealistic investigation of the murder, which involved posing (while underage) as a stripper in a nightclub, interrogating other strippers, finding evidence in plain view which the cops apparently did not locate. I knew who the killer was the moment he/she came on the scene.
As a mystery/thriller, The Butterfly Clues, was not very compelling; it fares better as a psychological portrait of a teenage girl trying to cope with tragedy while battling OCD.