Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mystery + Magical Realism = Another Lush, Intriguing Bayou Novel

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When her beloved Grammy Claire passes away, Tara Doucet feels like her own life has ended.  The 12-year-old can't imagine going on without her warm, vibrant grandma.  Especially when everything else around her seems to be falling apart as well.  The Doucets may be descended from one of the oldest families in Louisiana's New Iberia Parish, but their distinguished genealogy isn't helping them now—their big, old plantation home is crumbling to ruins; Mamma's taken to her bed, distancing herself like she always does; Daddy ran off a long time ago; and Tara and her 17-year-old sister Riley are at each other's throats.  Things are spinning out of control faster than Tara can say "grief."  She needs her Grammy Claire so desperately it hurts.

Then, come the butterflies.  Tara knows it's crazy to believe the beautiful creatures can understand her, that they carry secret messages from her dead grandmother.  But she does.  When a  mysterious package arrives for her from Grammy Claire, Tara's even more convinced the butterflies are trying to tell her something.  Something important.  As Tara follows the clues Grammy Claire has left her, she embarks on a remarkable journey.  It's a wild adventure that will take the preteen to the edge of the world—and change her life forever.

If you've been paying attention, you know I have a connection to Louisiana that draws me over and over again to books about that part of the U.S.  From its murky bayous to its creepy cemeteries to its vibrant celebrations of life, there's just something about The Pelican State that makes it a vivid book setting (bland state nickname notwithstanding).  And nowhere does the region come more to life (for me, anyway) than in the books of middle grade author Kimberley Griffiths Little.  Her bayou novels—which are not really a series, more like loosely interconnected stories—are family dramas set against this lush, intriguing back drop.  The setting becomes a character, as charming and complex as any of Little's others.  This is my favorite part about Little's books, but she also creates intricate plots, studded with enough (but not too much) magical realism to keep things interesting.  Her stories are warm, imaginative and well-crafted.  I *might* be a little bit of a fan girl :)

When the Butterflies Came, Little's newest, didn't, however, win my undying love like its predecessors, The Healing Spell and Circle of Secrets, did.  Why?  Mostly because of the ending.  Without being too spoiler-y (I hope), let me just say that something's revealed about one of the characters that totally changed my opinion of them.  And soured me on the book in general.  I'm kind of picky that way.  Despite my misgivings, though, I did enjoy the book overall.  Annoying ending or not, Little just writes books that speak to my heart.  When it comes to this author (I *never* name drop, but we do happen to be IRL friends), a fan girl I am and a fan girl I will always be.

P.S.  I'm not a huge lover of book trailers, but this one's kind of creepy-fun:



Grade:

If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for violence/intense situations

To the FTC, with love:  I received both an ARC and a finished copy of When the Butterflies Came from the generous folks at Scholastic.  Thank you!

3 comments:

  1. I'm still trying to figure out if I can go see her at Kings English on Saturday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should! Kimberley's great -- a wonderful writer and a sweet, lovely person.

      Delete
  2. That's such a great trailer! Totally hooked on this book! Not really my age group (I don't read a lot of MG or younger books) but this one actually sounds right up my alley. And I do like that it's set in LA! Great review and thanks for sharing the awesome trailer!

    ReplyDelete

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