Jamie has ADHD which means he finds things a little trickier than most at school. He finds it hard to cope with change; he gets distracted quickly; he can lose his temper from what, to others, might seem like little provocation. He wants to be ‘normal’ like all the other children in his class. Even at home he feels like he doesn’t fit in and always causes too much trouble for his mum. Jamie feels like he has butterflies in his brain, and he doesn’t want to anymore.
Then there is Elin who wants to be as perfect as she can be after her dad left. She tries her hardest at school, whilst at home she keeps everything neat and tidy. Organisation is key. Elin refuses to see her new half-sister, and expects her nan not to see her either. She just wants her dad to see her more and, ultimately, come back to her family…which means her step-dad Paul needs to go too.
When their families are joined, chaos and order collide and cause both Elin and Jamie to have to reflect on what they are expecting to happen. On the surface, they seem entirely different. Yet, once they get to know each other they discover there might be more to each other than meets the eye. Maybe, they just need to be themselves.
I adored Victoria’s debut, Fox Girl and the White Gazelle, so expected great things from her second book. I wasn’t disappointed.
I really like the inclusion of issues and topics that are presented in an accessible way to children. Her previous book focused on refugees, whilst The Boy With the Butterfly Mind has themes of ADHD and blended families. Through this book, children can build empathy and understanding of things they may not have experienced themselves, or even see themselves reflected within the book and maybe even see they aren’t alone in their experiences.
By having chapters from both Elin’s and Jamie’s perspective, you really begin to understand each of them. Why they make certain choices; what they care about most; what their personalities are like. It creates a dynamic feel to the book, with events discussed from both viewpoints.
Despite Jamie and Elin being the main characters, I particularly liked Paige. There isn’t a lot expected of her at the start of the book, yet by the end she shows herself as being an essential friend and companion; what you see might not reflect who someone really is.
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