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I Belong

Review: The Fall of Butterflies by Andrea Portes

Title: The Fall of Butterflies

Author: Andrea Portes

Genre: YA Contemporary

Series: N/A

Publication Date: May 10, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 386 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062313673 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062313676 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Tara


Willa Parker, 646th and least popular resident of What Cheer, Iowa, is headed east to start a new life.

Did she choose this new life? No, because that would be too easy—and nothing in Willa’s life is easy. It’s her famous genius mother’s idea to send her to ultra-expensive, ultra-exclusive Pembroke Prep, and it’s only the strength of her name that got Willa accepted in the first place.

But Willa has no intentions of fitting in at Pembroke. She’s not staying long, she decides. Not at this school—and not on this planet. But when she meets peculiar, glittering Remy Taft, the richest, most mysterious girl on campus, she starts to see a foothold in this foreign world—a place where she could maybe, possibly, sort of fit.

When Willa looks at Remy, she sees a girl who has everything. But for Remy, having everything comes at a price. And as she spirals out of control, Willa can feel her spinning right out of her grasp.

In Willa’s secret heart, all she’s ever wanted is to belong. But if Remy, the girl who gave her this world, is slip-sliding away, is Willa meant to follow her down?

Andrea Portes’s incandescent, heartfelt novel explores the meaning of friendship, new beginnings, and the precarious joy and devastating pain of finding home in a place—a person—with wings.

Quick & Dirty: A YA contemporary about friendship and self-discovery that I never really connected with.

Opening Sentence: Bet you’d never thought you’d be sitting at the freak table.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

This book chronicles the first semester after Willa Parker switches to an extremely exclusive private school. Up to this point, Willa had lived a regular and somewhat uneventful life with her father in a small-town in Iowa after her famous and wealthy mother ran away from them. Once at the new school, Willa meets and somehow befriends Remy, the girl everyone wants to be friends with. Both girls have their own private struggles and the story is ultimately about how these two broken girls create a life for themselves.

The Fall of Butterflies was told in a stream of thought narration that occassionally broke the fourth wall. I dislike both of these narration methods so that definitely colored my enjoyment of the novel. Willa is an energetic character and her thoughts kept switching topics, creating a story that was difficult to follow and overall disjointed. If you enjoy seeing exactly what goes on in the head of a character, you’ll probably like this narration style. Additionally, since Willa does directly address the reader, I was never quite sure if it was a diary or if we were supposed to be following the story as it unfolded. Both of those create different expectations in the reader and I think the story would have been better if that had been clarified.

There wasn’t much of a typical plot arc to this story, which some readers may enjoy. I was never sure where the story was going, it seemed to meander along and never really commit to a storyline. Important issues, such as Willa’s suicidal ideation at the beginning and Remy’s affair with a certain individual, aren’t given nearly the page space that they deserve. Both are mentioned but never really explored in depth. In general, the novel felt as if it was only skimming the surface of the story the author really wanted to tell.

The characters also never really came alive for me. I really wanted to like Willa but wasn’t able to emotionally connect with her. However, this could have been because my dislike of the narration style imposed a barrier for me. The romance was very blah, particularly because I never really understood the attraction between the two of them. Had the story focused on one subplot, such as Willa’s romance or Remy’s drug habit, I think it would have been better since none of the subplots are fully developed.

This book definitely wasn’t for me but I’m also not generally a fan of contemporary novels. I think that readers who enjoy that genre would probably find this book much more to their tastes than I did.

Notable Scene:

No, no. This story is about the “should.” As in, I “should” be more sophisticated by now, according to my mother. And I “should” be less of a total freak if I want to get anywhere at the Ivy League university I will no doubt be attending. Sending somebody to California to get sophisticated is like sending someone to the Krispy Kreme to lose weight.

Nope, to ensure this all-important sophistication I am headed to The Pembroke School back east. Oh, you’ve never heard of The Pembroke School? That’s because it’s basically a secret and nobody can get in unless their parents are in the Social Register or their great-great-great-great-great-grandparents came over on the Mayflower or their names are Sasha or Malia. Other than that, you’re out of luck. Don’t even think about it. It will just depress you.

So, how does a giant-mouthed, secondhand oddball from the sticks like yours truly get into a place that should obviously reject and scorn me before I even say its name? Well, here’s the good part.


FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of The Fall of Butterflies. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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