Monday, November 4, 2013

Book Club Discussion: The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison

Provisions and Paperbacks, my IRL book club, recently read The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison. As I said in the initial post (you can read it here), I want to share some thoughts and ideas brought up during the book club and bring my blog readers into the discussion.

Not yet, but there will be spoilers. You have been warned.

The Butterfly Clues 
by Kate Ellison
Published February 14, 2012
Pages: 325

Penelope (Lo) Marin has always loved to collect beautiful things. Her dad's consulting job means she's grown up moving from one rundown city to the next, and she's learned to cope by collecting (sometimes even stealing) quirky trinkets and souvenirs in each new place--possessions that allow her to feel at least some semblance of home.

But in the year since her brother Oren's death, Lo's hoarding has blossomed into a full-blown, potentially dangerous obsession. She discovers a beautiful, antique butterfly pendant during a routine scour at a weekend flea market, and recognizes it as having been stolen from the home of a recently murdered girl known only as "Sapphire"--a girl just a few years older than Lo. As usual when Lo begins to obsess over something, she can't get the murder out of her mind.

As she attempts to piece together the mysterious "butterfly clues," with the unlikely help of a street artist named Flynt, Lo quickly finds herself caught up in a seedy, violent underworld much closer to home than she ever imagined--a world, she'll ultimately discover, that could hold the key to her brother's tragic death.

There will be spoilers. You have been warned.

Here are some thoughts shared during our book club discussion after reading The Butterfly Clues:
  • So many of the characters weren't known by their real names: Flynt, Sapphire, Bird, and even the main character Lo. Why didn't they use their real names? Did this allow them to create a "street" persona or did it free them from their past? Naming themselves allowed them to be who they wanted to be, eliminated expectations.
  • Lo's OCD stalled her, "But since Oren disappeared it has gotten worse" (page 15) At first it seemed like a quirk, but as we continued to read, it was apparent that it was debilitating. 
  • The OCD affected us as readers. Some of us even arrived to book club saying, "tap, tap, tap, banana" - this was something that Lo did frequently before she could do anything else. Reading her OCD habits was exhausting, halted the flow of the story, but there was a point to this. It stressed what it was like to live with this behavior. As readers we couldn't continue reading progressively until Lo did her rituals.
  • It was easy to be suspicious of Flynt. Did he know Oren? Had their paths crossed? Why did Flynt lie so frequently? Was he the killer? He was connected in too many ways to not be involved somehow. We didn't want to be suspicious of him because he had a certain kind of charm.
  • Lo's OCD puts her in dangerous situations. Her need to know more, to make sense of everything, made her blind to these dangers. The obsession drove her. It's not clear if she realized the danger that she was putting herself in. 
  • Flynt understood these dangers and even though he was sketchy, it said a lot about him that he took risks and was willing to help her. He understood to "rules" of the streets and knew that he was putting himself in danger as they tried to find out what happened to Sapphire (and Lo).
  • The character "The Prophet" did prove to be prophetic - even though he was blind he knew everything about everyone.
  • It was a shock to see Lo's OCD through the eyes of her parents. Her "collecting" of objects didn't seem that bad (we only knew it from her perspective). It was only when her dad described her room that we could understand just how out of control it was. 
  • The Butterfly Clues was an interesting read, a mystery that wasn't easily solved. There are many layers to it and offered a lot to be discussed. It was a great book club pick.
Goodreads * Amazon * IndieBound

I'd like to invite anyone to join in on the discussion and share your thoughts on The Butterfly Clues!! Just leave your thoughts in the comments! 

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