Karen's Reviews > The Girl Who Threw Butterflies

The Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Mick Cochrane
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Nov 29, 09

bookshelves: realistic-fiction, loss, favorites
Read in November, 2009

Molly Williams learned to throw a knuckleball pitch from her father. The two of them spent hours bonding over games of catch and watching baseball on TV as Molly grew up. But now Molly’s father is gone – he died in a car accident a few months ago and 8th grader Molly is alone in her grief. Her workaholic, distracted mother is unavailable emotionally, and Molly just can’t relate to her former teammates on the girls softball team any more. Impulsively, she tries out for the school baseball team as a way of expressing her true self, using her pitching talent and honoring the memory of her father. Molly’s efforts to be accepted as the only girl on the team and to simultaneously work through the loss of her father are realistically chronicled in this short, poignant novel. Like the unpredictable flight of a knuckleball pitch (“Each floating and fluttering pitch was a little miracle. It was all about surprise”), Molly deals with sadness, anger, self-doubt and prejudice -- but also exhilaration, acceptance and reconciliation. Along the way she gets support from a loyal best friend, a caring coach, and the unexpected friendship of Lonnie, a catcher on the baseball team who understands what it’s like to lose a parent, albeit through divorce.

Molly’s voice rings true, and author Mick Cochrane does a fine job of capturing the experience of an adolescent who unexpectedly loses a parent. Secondary characters are well-developed, and Cochrane succeeds in combining gentle humor, sports action and touching emotional moments (as when Molly surreptitiously sneaks into her father’s clothes closet and tries on his favorite brown corduroy jacket). This book would be an especially good choice for teens dealing with a loss of their own, but will provide important insight into the grief process for all readers. Both boys and girls will care about Molly and find themselves rooting for her to succeed. The Girl Who Threw Butterflies is an excellent addition to any middle school library.
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