The Knife and the Butterfly
by Ashley Hope Perez
Published by Carolrhoda Books
Available February 1, 2012
Azael Arevalo wishes he could remember how the fight ended. He knows his MS13 boys faced off with some punks from Crazy Crew. He can picture the bats, the bricks, the chains. A knife. But he can’t remember anything between that moment and when he woke behind bars. Azael knows jails, and something isn’t right about this lockup. No phone call. No lawyer. No news about his brother or his homies. The only thing they make him do is watch some white girl in some cell. Watch her and try to remember.
Lexi Allen would love to forget the fight, would love for it to disappear back into the Xanax fog it came from. And her mother and her lawyer hope she chooses not to remember too much about the brawl—at least when it’s time to testify. Lexi knows that there’s more at stake in her trial than her life alone, though. Azael needs the truth. The knife cut, but somehow it also connected.
The Knife and the Butterfly is one of those stories that leaves you in awe long after finishing it. Like Azael, I'm left not quite sure how it all happened but, also, with that deep sense that I knew all along. Before reading the book, I didn't know too much of the background of the story which was inspired by true events, and I am glad for that. I think that it would have affected how I read it and how I absorbed what Azael was experiencing.
Azael comes off as a hard person, not just because he is in a gang, but because of his life's circumstances and all that he has done to make his way in his life. I learned so much about Azael through flashback memories before the fight and come to know that there is much more to him than just this hardness that he portrays in order to survive. He has a vulnerability to him too. When he begins that watch Lexi, even though he doesn't know why he is doing it, an amount of fear begins to rise in him. He's afraid that she is there to pin a crime on him and he still can't figure out what it is. He immediately dislikes her - sees her as spoiled, privileged, white. He thinks he knows her, thinks he knows her type. But as he watches her, he learns there is more to Lexi than the color of her skin, the tone in her voice, what she is projecting out into the world.
What I like about Ashley's character driven story is that I really do care about the characters and everything that may happen to them. The Knife and the Butterfly is eye-opening and all together heart-breaking.
I'm still having a difficult time putting my thoughts together about what I've read. This is one of those books I will be thinking about for days maybe even weeks. I will most definitely share this book with my IRL friends because it is one that should be considered and discussed because like I have said so many times, there is nothing lonelier that reading a book and not having someone to share it with.