Book review: The Fall of Butterflies by Andrea Portes

I didn’t want this book to end, just so you know. It was one of those books where the main character grabbed me in the first chapter. Then, I didn’t want to let her go.

The Fall of Butterflies is about Willa, a small town teenage girl from What Cheer, Iowa (no that’s not a typo, it does exist) with a very famous estranged genius mother. Willa was happy with her life living in a small town with a population of less than 700. But her mother wanted to move her into a private school that would help with her chances of admission into an Ivy League school after she graduates.

So Willa has no choice but to leave her town, her father and her friends to move to Pembroke Prep, a super exclusive private school where everyone is rich. Willa already feels like an outsider and she hasn’t even started school yet. But on the first day, she meets Remy, the coolest girl in school – the girl everyone wanted to be friends with. And for some reason, Remy likes her.

As Willa starts hanging out with Remy and gets sucked into her world, she slowly starts to believe that maybe she might just be able to fit into her new world. But, of course, nothing is ever easy in Willa’s life. As she meets more people from Remy’s world, like the unbelievably cool and hot Milo, Willa realises that their world – the world of the silver spoon and private islands – isn’t really all that it seems.

Willa tries hard to ground herself again after succumbing to the temptations of the rich life – partying, luxury, large houses and drugs. She is happy to have found a new best friend in Remy but Willa is having a hard time enjoying the lifestyle her friend has chosen. Willa only ever wanted to belong but would she throw away everything she believes in just to fit in?

This book will make you laugh, get you teary and question your own decisions in life. Willa’s character is beautifully written with a voice so strong and so clear she jumps off the pages of the book. Although the book is written in a light humorous tone, the topics in it aren’t light. It deals with teen suicide, sex, family troubles and drug addiction. But even though there are heavy issues involved, Portes wrote it in a way that it doesn’t end up being preachy – it is very true to the protagonist’s personality.

In the end, although Willa is still broke and still feels different from everyone else, she realises that being herself isn’t so bad after all. And that’s a very good lesson to take away from a young adult book.

Kristyn M. Levis is a freelance writer, author and photographer based in Sydney. She is currently the managing editor of Her Collective. Her first novel is set to be published this year.


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