Whenever I read an incredible book, I like to search up the author and see if they have published other works because chances are, if I enjoyed one of their books I will also enjoy the others. Once such example is Andrea Portes. After reading Liberty (see my review here), I decided to read some more of her work, hence my review on The Fall of Butterflies. I am disappointed to say that I enjoyed The Fall of Butterflies less than I did Liberty, but found it a good read nonetheless.
The story starts with our protagonist, Willa Parker leaving her small town of What Cheer, Iowa to attend a fancy prep school her mother has chosen for her. Willa doesn’t see how a new life in the East will help her, and having hardly been able to fit in Iowa, she knows she will never fit in with the wealthy students of Pembroke Prep. Determined to lay low until she can find a way to escape, even if it means taking her own life, Willa goes by unnoticed by the students of Pembroke Prep on her first day at school. She is a little surprised, but mostly relieved. Her plan to lay low is demolished the next day, though, when a glittering, elusive, and rich girl takes the empty seat beside her in class.
Suddenly, Willa is thrown into the spotlight as the best, and maybe only friend of the infamous Remy Taft. With Remy, Willa finds the best friend she never had, and never knew she needed. Remy makes her feel like there is more to her life that is worth being alive to see. But even if being with Remy is the only way Willa can feel at home at Pembroke Prep, Remy has a way of disappearing when she is needed most, and hurting those closest to her. Willa wonders if Remy is destined to spin out of control, and if she’s going to get dragged down with her.
The Fall of Butterflies gets an 8/10. A plot should never ever be just about one person’s relationship with the other. Even in a romance (which this book is not) there should be subplots in order to distract the reader and provide relief from obsessing over one character. The Fall of Butterflies was heavily centered on Willa’s relationship with Remy, almost to the point of obsession and there were only a few weak subplots that didn’t provide the reprieve needed from the main plot itself.
In any other book, this plot would’ve likely have led me to put the book down and not finish reading. But The Fall of Butterflies has everything else (other than the plot) perfect. Willa’s character especially is what saved this book. She’s sharp, quick, and absolutely hilarious even when she doesn’t mean to be. Willa also has insecurities, she is deep, insightful, heavily flawed, and she’s irrefutably real. Another thing I loved about The Fall of Butterflies? The dialogue. It’s incredibly difficult to get natural-sounding dialogue, but Andrea Portes managed to do just that; her characters act and talk like real-life teenagers.
The Fall of Butterflies is a coming-of-age story that discusses mental health, friendships, drugs and other difficult subjects. The plot line could’ve been improved, but the characters and the meaningful essence of the book is still there.