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Butterfly

3.23 of 5 stars 3.23  ·  rating details  ·  762 ratings  ·  143 reviews
Growing up during the 1980s in the safe complacency of the Australian suburbs, Plum Coyle should be happy. But on the cusp of her 14th birthday - and on the fringe of her peer group - she lives in terror of the disapproval of her cruel and fickle girlfriends, and most of all, she hates her awkward, changing body with a passion.
Paperback, 214 pages
Published March 1st 2009 by Hamish Hamilton (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,909)
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Adriana
If I would have read this book before ordering it for my library, I probably would not have ordered it for our teen collection. I think the style, plot, characterizations and tone are all wrong for YA, and I would be hard pressed to find many teens who would enjoy this book. The book is set in Australia, and although at first this is very evident, it eases up after a while. Plum is about to turn 14 and lives with her parents and two older brothers. Her friendships at school are very fragile, as ...more
Anna
*Contains mild spoilers, don't worry, nothing that will come close to ruining the book*
When I checked this book out at my local library the lady at the checkout counter looked at it and said "beautiful cover, beautiful title," which made me think to myself, "this book is gonna be awesome!" As you can see from my 2/5 star review, I didn't like it very much. Reading it made me feel uncomfortable, sad, and sort of dirty; like you've been sweating at the beach on a 100 degree summer day but you coul
...more
Elizabeth
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eva Mitnick
Plum's life is one big Awkward Phase. Reading this, I was plunged back into my adolescence, during which I wanted more than anything to just be invisible so no one could witness my gawky, bespectacled, desperately uncomfortable existence. Or no - like Plum, I knew the best thing would be to not care at all what people thought - but that was even more impossible than becoming a graceful, lovely teen.

Plum's efforts to grasp some control over her life are strange and rather pathetic - and yet are i
...more
lucy by the sea
What a fucking nasty book. The main character is nasty, her friends are nasty, the older brother she looks up to is nasty, the neighbour she idolises is nasty and the whole book left a foul feeling.

The nice characters like her parents and the 4 year old are fucked on and the reader is left feelimg hopeless and sullied.

I didn't like it. I thought it would hae been a much better book if a lot less happened. If all the plot twists and extra storylines had been left out and it was left as a simple
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Katie
Butterfly is such a strange, unique story; but in the most positive way ever. I can’t explain in words exactly why I enjoyed this book so much. It’s not paranormal, it doesn’t have a breathtaking romance and it’s not anything that you can possibly relate to. But it just drew me in and I love how unexplainable that is for me.

Plum is painfully and awkwardly balancing between that line of child and teenager. She’s not like any character I’ve ever read before; sophisticated and somewhat immature at
...more
Tiffany Vaughan
'Butterfly' is an achingly perfect depiction of what life is like when you’re 14 and female.

Although Hartnett is predominantly a writer for young adults, 'Butterfly' is targeted towards adult readers. You would never give this book to a fourteen-year-old girl; to do so would be to risk that encompassing pain to feel all the more sinister and raw. With all the darkness that pervades this novel, I found myself actually reveling in the fact that I was no longer a teenager, and never ever ever ever
...more
Christina
"One is only given a handful of choices before life is decided for you."

This was vigorously depressing, and the ending left me sick to my stomach. Excuse me while I go jump off a bridge.
Christina (Confessions of a Book Addict)
Plum Coyle is your typical adolescent girl growing up the 1980's in Australia. She goes through life trying to impress her friends, trying to gain attention, and essentially trying to be someone she isn't. This book is an accurate portrayal of what some young females must go through in order to feel accepted and fit in; however, Plum takes it a step further and tries too hard. Sonya Hartnett's depiction of adolescent life in The Butterfly is so awkward it hurts.

Plum, vying for attention from her
...more
H.Lee
This is a really hard review for me to write. I am not sure if it was the fact that the author is Australian or that the setting is in the 80′s. It took me awhile to read this book, I just could not get into it. I put it down a couple of times, but was determined to read til the end. I am glad that I did, the ending was great when the whole storyline comes together and the mysteries are all solved.

The characters were very interesting and that is the reason that I was drawn to finish the book. Pl
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Mands
Ariella Coyle, otherwise known as Plum is about to turn fourteen and lives at home with her parents and her two older brothers, Justin and Cydar. She has a group of friends at school that have begun to pick on her and she makes friends with her next-door neighbour, Maureen, who begins to offer her advice.

On the opening page we find Plum standing in front of a mirror, critiquing every part of her body, I immediately felt sorry for her, no 13 year old girl should hate her body as much as Plum did
...more
Jan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jayne Lamb
This is my first tast of Sonya Hartnett's talents, and while I wasn't knocked-out-wowed, I was certainly impressed with the opening and scene setting. (As I get older I'm certainly loving books set in 80's suburban Australia.) Hartnett's strengths, in this book at least, are descriptive and emotional - the details (Cydar's fish tanks, the smells and plant life of summer in suburbia) are wonderful, but she tries to squeeze in a whole other story about pubescent girls and the horror of school, and ...more
Deb
This book was really well reviewed, but I didn't like it much and I can't imagine it flying off the shelves. Plum is an insecure almost-13-year-old whose place among her mean girl friends is precarious. She befriends her next door neighbor who, unbeknownst to Plum, is having an affair with her beloved older brother. Things come to a head on her 14th birthday, when Plum finds out she indeed has no friends.

I found none of the characters particularly sympathetic and most were downright unlikeable.
...more
Ashley
I enjoyed the writing style. I even enjoyed the way that the book showed different characters view points, as if there were more than one main character. I even think that the depictions of Plum's friends and the way Plum both felt about them and felt because of them were accurate to that of a group of teenage girls. Girls can be brutal with how they make each other feel.

I did not like Maureen or her fake sincerity and I'm not entirely sure what the ending of the book was trying to convey with
...more
Georgie
A beautifully written story that anyone who has been a teenager, and especially a teenage girl will understand. Plum is about to turn 14. She lives in the safe Australian suburbs with her family. But everything is difficult and confusing for Plum. She hates the way she looks. Her friends can often be cruel and judgemental. She loves her family, especially her oldest brother Justin, but often struggles to understand them. Her 'Mums' and 'Fa' are loving but also by turns clueless and aggravating. ...more
Edward Sullivan
Australian author Sonya Hartnett is one of the best writers there is now writing young adult fiction. This beautifully written, sad novel tells the coming-of-age story of Plum Coyle, a girl suffering all the excrutiating pains of adolescence as her 14th birthday appraches. Hartnett's prose is exquisite and her ability to get inside of her character and capture her emotions so perfectly is extraordinary.
Rachel
A piece of literary fiction that spans the classifications of YA and adult, but really feels more adult than anything else, since half of it is spent on the perspectives of 20 and 30 year olds. Note some aspects of this book may not be suitable for all readers.
June Schwarz
There were aspects of Butterfly I liked very much. I was disappointed in the ending, the slow spiral away from Plum...when Hartnett was writing about Plum and the other girls, she was very good, but when she got away from that, it was weak and tepid.
Angel
At first, when I read "Of a Boy" by Sonya Hartnett, I fell in love. The prose was lyrical and haunting, and the characters were flawed and realistic. I immediately purchased "Butterfly" and read it.
It is quite similar to "Of a Boy." The main character is a troubled child, though slightly older in this case, and all the other characters, minor and major, have some sort of major, depressing issue. I finished this book and began disliking both "Of a Boy" and "Butterfly." For goodness sake, Ms. Har
...more
Kricket
Jan 19, 2015 Kricket rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults who would like to feel gloomy
ariella "plum" coyle is about to turn 14 and change her life. she wants a different body, more respect from her friends, and to be more important and beautiful. when she is befriended by the beautiful stay-at-home mother next door, she believes all these things to be in reach. but the neighbor has her own reasons for taking an interest in plum.

this book is beautifully written...but i just don't think it's a teen book. a good portion of the story focuses on plum's older brother's ill-fated love
...more
Rachel
This review was originally written, but never posted, for my blog in 2013

I read this book awhile ago so this is going to be a shorter review as I don't have quite as many of my thoughts still in order.

I picked it up mostly because A), the cover is gorgeous! It's just so pretty. If I was an author publishing a book, I'd be very happy with this. Also, B) I found the the synopsis very intriguing.

While the cover did remain pleasing to look at the whole time I read the book, the synopsis was a majo
...more
Banafsheh Serov
I have always enjoyed coming of age stories; there is a purity of truth about them that I really find appealing. They conjure up old memories and forgotten insecurities that at the time I had felt were uniquely my own. Set in an Australian suburban neighborhood in the 70's Butterfly is one such story.

Plum Coyle is on the cusp of turning 14. She considers her approaching birthday as the start of a new beginning, a shedding of her old self. Until now her best friends have treated her as the least
...more
Margarita
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emily
This wonderfully unique story is a must-read coming of age book. But it is not for YA readers even though it is being marketed as such. This is an adult book - I knew that from page one. The intense attention to detail and the description of innermost feelings will not do for teen readers. This is far too realistic for those who are still in their teen years. Only adults who have lived through the blurred pain of adolescence will abide this true-to-life depiction of what it means to be young and ...more
Book Sp(l)ot
With her fourteenth birthday fast uproaching and a new school year also starting, Plum is just sure her life is going to change. She's sure she's going to go from the slightly chubby girl child she's been for years to an elegant young woman in the blink of an eye.

Plum, a girl who keeps a briefcase full of treasures hidden under her bed, is desperate to be grown up--much like just about every fourteen-year-old girl. Growing up in Australia with her mother, father and two older brothers Justin and
...more
Alison O'keefe
I have always loved Sonya Hartnett. I feel like she has looked at my innermost thoughts and experiences and then creates a story around them, and that's why I feel so connected to her books - and have since high school when I first started reading Sleeping Dogs. There are only a few times this hasn't been the case- but this one resonated very strongly with me. I just wanted to run into the pages and hug Plum and tell her it gets better - that there are girls like that everywhere and we all know ...more
Larissa
Plum is a fruit sitting unripened on the vine, she is round and awkward and unattractive. Aria is a song, beautiful and stylish, with the potential for fame and stardom. But Ariella Coyle is a butterfly.

Plum has always felt out of place, her family is not like other families, her house is not like other houses, and she is not like other girls. Plum is at that age where change is everywhere, she is growing up, no longer a child but still is treated like one. Nothing is under her control, her frie
...more
Tien
Wow... I was amazingly surprised by this book and that pleases me most of all! To be surprised!

My first perception of the book is that it is about a 14 yo girl struggles. Indeed, it is that and more. Right off the bat, I could feel the poignant pains that I, myself, felt when I was of that age. It wasn't really that bad now that I looked back but maybe it was that bad when I was going through it. This is what Plum "Aria" Cowly is going through - "growing pains".

Plum struggles to fit into her 'ch
...more
Michelle
Butterfly is a divinely written story centering on an awkward young girl trying to better fit in amongst her friends and family. Set in the 1980s Harnett paints a portrait of what should be the ideal suburban life. Plum lives in a comfortable home, has two parents who work and care for her, has older siblings who are also trying to distinguish themselves, and goes to school where she has a distinct group of friends. But like so many families before hers not everything in suburbia is as perfect a ...more
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Sonya Hartnett (also works under the pseudonym Cameron S. Redfern) is, or was, something of an Australian child prodigy author. She wrote her first novel at the age of thirteen, and had it published at fifteen. Her books have also been published in Europe and North America. Her novels have been published traditionally as young adult fiction, but her writing often crosses the divide and is also enj ...more
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“Justin is twenty-four years old: the world will never be more suited to him than it is now, he will never feel more embraced by life or have greater faith in his right to exist. The earth and the oxygen, the cities and lights, the nights and the beaches seem created for him and for those like him.” 5 likes
“She is not a musical girl nor, intrinsically, a joyful girl; but the music of the four Swedes shook something awake inside her, and when she heard it she felt airborne and strong.” 3 likes
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