Huge thanks to Merith Jones for guest reviewing this title for Bleach House Library.ie
Click here to see Inside The Butterfly Shell
Review by Merith Jones
How far do we protect our children’s childhood? Or do we accept the world as it is and offer the protection of knowledge?
Difficult issues in children’s fiction can be harder for parents to accept than the intended readers who are often more aware than we give them credit for, and, awareness does not necessarily mean the ‘focused on‘ that adults fear.
Maureen White offers a sensitive and astutely balanced view of a year in the life of Marie, a twelve year old newly facing the challenges of secondary school and the battle to establish an independent identity.
Marie reflects on the past year so we begin with the assurance of her survival of what promises to be a difficult adjustment. Until now she has been confident in her bookish world but soon learns that she is not seen as ‘cool’ and the allure of acceptance by the in crowd leads her to deny herself, the friendship of another less conventional girl and her integrity. Framing this is the ghostly presence of the lost sister after whom she is named and her feelings of inadequacy as a replacement daughter all of which lead her to dark places and self harm.
The authentic voice of Marie reflects the hopes and fears that are so fundamental to that desire for acceptance young readers will recognise but, following the dramatic incident which brings the story to a crisis she ultimately finds herself, her true friends and her own sense of value within her family.
An uplifting and beautifully placed transitional read between the cosiness of younger fiction and the more adult themes of the Young Adult world.