Katelyn (Tales of Books and Bands)'s Reviews > The Knife and the Butterfly

The Knife and the Butterfly by Ashley Hope Pérez
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Nov 04, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: e-book, own, read-in-2012, review-books, 5-stars, young-adult
Read from January 31 to February 05, 2012

This book grabbed a hold of me from the very first page and if I am being completely honest, it still has a hold over me even days after reading it. I first fell in love with Ashley’s writing after reading What Can’t Wait. I learned that she has this impeccable ability to tie in beautiful, hopeful stories while also keeping it entertaining and realistic. The Knife and the Butterfly will anger you, make you happy, break your heart, and then put it together again. It is one emotional roller coaster of a book that is 100% worth your time.

The story follows Azael, a 15-year-old boy who wakes up in a cell with no recollection of how he got there. To add to his utter confusion, this lock-up is not quite like the others he’s encountered. He doesn’t have a set schedule, he sometimes gets to talk to a few guards but they hardly ever release information, and he spends his days watching Lexi, a girl he knows absolutely nothing about. Lexi’s story is complicated and intertwined with Azael’s somehow and I spent the whole book trying to figure out just how. I love that we are learning the events of his incarceration right along with him. Every confusing moment, every new clue, every elusive comment is there to help us piece together Azael’s whole story.

The book is separated into “now” and “then” chapters and it is through this that we learn all about Azael’s tough childhood like the death of his mother and the deportation of his father. Azael and his brother Eddie spent their days hiding from Child Protective Services, scrounging for food, and trying to survive the gang life. Ashley paints a portrait of a very sad and depressing childhood but it is one that must be painted. She stays true to what I imagine the gang life to be like, very gritty and very dangerous, and it often times includes kids who seem to have no choice just like Azael and Eddie. The brother’s original reasons for joining the gang are unsure but I know the reasons they stayed in; they grew to like the trouble, the money, and the family aspect of it all. Sure the boys have friends that have their backs but they are also introduced to a life of crime that lands them in trouble time and time again including the situation Azael is now in.

Azael definitely has a tough exterior and he said a lot of things that made me squirm but that did not deter me from loving him. Here is this boy with a beautiful heart who got put in the worst of situations, a boy who really wanted to change his life around, and due to bad luck and even worse choices, he is put into this cell to try and figure out what is going on. How could your heart not go out to someone like that? The same goes for Lexi. At first I couldn’t stand the girl but the more we learn about her background, the more I understood the way she presented herself to people. She is a troubled girl thrown into a huge mess of a situation and she is scared to death of it. Both Azael’s and Lexi’s stories pulled at my heartstrings.

Ashley’s writing was beautiful throughout the whole book! Azael likes to throw around curse words and he talks in a manner that is not exactly flattering but that is where Ashley’s talent shines the most. She was able to be so extremely realistic, down to the smallest details like his word choice, yet she still provided such a beautiful story.

The Knife and the Butterfly takes you through a lot. There is grief, sadness, but there is also a sense of hope to the whole thing. I have said it before, and after reading this book I will say it time and time again, but I will forever be a fan of Ashley’s writing!
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