Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Lakewater Press, via NetGalley for an honest review.
Plot: At birth, Bethany Keatley was diagnosed with a rare bone disease and sent home from the hospital to die. Despite losing her mother to cancer before she turned two, Bethany defeated her prognosis and now, at fifteen, with hindered growth making her appear ten years old, she is alive and well thanks to the hormone injections which her scientist father developed.
But if growing up isn’t hard enough already, being small makes her a target and a social outcast. The only way she’s been able to escape her high school tormenters so far is by working hard, achieving good grades, and through her unusual friendship with star football player Jeremiah Wright. That is until a misunderstanding with new girl Zoey Margold. Beautiful and brazen, Zoey and her followers make it their focus to break Bethany.
Yet dealing with the bullies becomes the least of Bethany’s worries. The mice on which her dad tests the butterfly hormone are showing side effects no one saw coming and now her plan to leave the small minded town of Springs, Georgia and become a scientist has all but shattered. Her world becomes a prison and her existence a life sentence.
But nature has her own plans for Bethany.
Opinion: This story is truly like the crème de la crème of the audible Aw’s and small smiles that we only give to books. It’s an adorable coming-of-age/young adult story, but tiptoes into the realm of fantasy and science fiction as it progresses. This story was the epitome of bitter-sweet. It tickles your heart with giggles and the hopes for a positive outcome, while also feeling sorrowful and useless as Bethany’s story unfolds.
Though Bethany Keatley is a fifteen year-old high school student, she is constantly being mistaken for a little girl because of a rare bone disease that she has had since birth. With a frail, tiny and childish frame that guarantees Bethany daily ridicule from her peers and a slim chance in catching the eye of any boys in her class, Bethany does all that she can to stay invisible. To make matters worse, having an eccentric and highly distracted scientist for a father doesn’t seem to help Bethany’s situation…especially when her father is giving her daily shots of hormone in the hopes that her disease may one day be cured. Though Bethany is on the outskirts with most of her peers, the only constant support she has found in her life is through Jeremiah Wright. Jeremiah, who is popular and gorgeous, has an unlikely friendship with Bethany and does all that he can to protect her. But as Bethany’s father comes closer and closer to finding a cure for her bone disease, she finds that the universe has much bigger plans for her.
It is fairly hard to give this story a description without giving away what happens at the end, because honestly the ending is pretty unbelievable and imaginative. Butterfly Bones is a unique coming-of-age/young-adult tale that touches on physical abnormalities, bullying and the hardships of loneliness and isolation. I found Bethany to be a likeable character. She is extremely intelligent and witty, but finds it hard to converse with her peers and make friends. Due to Bethany’s mother dying from cancer when she was very young and her father being a scientist who barely has time for Bethany, our main character finds herself to be on her own in a world where she is fairly misunderstood. My heart went out for her as she dealt with constant acts of bullying every day, this characters puts up with A LOT and does so in a strong way. She always keeps her head up and keeps moving forward, vowing to never let them see her cry. Though Bethany acts mature in these cases, I was constantly finding the things she said to be SUPER immature. Look, I remember being fifteen and laughing at stupid things…but come on. This girl and Jeremiah are literally singing the “diarrhea song”. REALLY? Are we 5? I would have thought that Bethany would have shown a little more maturity, for the sole fact that she is constantly being mistaken for a child and because she has had to take care of herself for so many years.
Though this is labeled as a YA story, it ventures into the science-fiction and fantasy genre halfway through the story. As Bethany’s father starts coming closer to a cure for Bethany, they find an interesting breakthrough that involves butterflies and metamorphosis. I know that some of you don’t like fantasy or a book turning out to be too fantastical, so thankfully the author has executed this change in genre quite well. The author has given the reader a somewhat BELIEVABLE turn of events for Bethany, and one that tries to be backed by science rather than magic.
The relationship between Jeremiah and Bethany is confusing and sad, yet endearing and hopeful. Here we have a popular football star who befriends the school outcast at a young age, and acts as a protector to her while they go through high school. I found the dynamic between these characters to be very interesting, especially in regards to Bethany and her bone disease. Due to Bethany psychically looking like a child, I kept wondering how the author was going to bring these two characters together romantically…if at all. The author successfully makes this relationship feel innocent and natural, while also keeping the idea in the readers head that someone like Jeremiah would never think about Bethany in that way. The turmoil between these two is heartbreaking, and part of me was just wishing it would end all together so that Bethany could have SOME kind of peace in her life.
I truly have a soft spot in my soul for this story, purely for the character of Bethany and all the things this young girl had to go through. I loved the ending immensely, it leaves the reader feeling satisfied while also giving them a moment to reflect on what her character could have done next and what could happen with the rest of her life. While reading I loved that I would be smiling at one moment, and then feeling hurt and angry the next. The author has given a wonderful and unique twist on a story about living with physical abnormalities, and I highly recommend giving this a try. I am really looking forward to see what this author comes up with in book two, because I honestly have NO idea where she is going to take this next.