Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Butterfly Clues, by Kate Ellison

Lo has always been a bit odd.  She has always had rituals she must perform in order to feel safe.  Tapping, counting, and whispered words have served as her incantations to summon safety.  Her compulsions have gotten much stronger since the death of her older brother, and she begins to steal and hoard objects, much to her father's dismay.  While in a rough part of town scouting objects, Lo gets entangled in the murder of a stripper, a murder she is determined to solve.  Her journey towards the truth takes her to dark places, both literally and figuratively, and she realizes that she does not know the people in her life as well as she thinks she does.

I found this story to be intriguing and heartbreaking.  Intriguing because it is a well written mystery thriller, heartbreaking because it paints an accurate picture of the difficulties associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  While it is never expressly stated that Lo suffers from OCD, it is painfully clear, due to the nature of her compulsions, and the obsessive thoughts regarding why she must perform her rituals.  The hoarding also plays into this.  I think that having a character with OCD in a young adult book is brilliant, particularly because, while the story sheds light on her issues, it is not about solving her issues.  Instead, Lo's rituals are painted as just an aspect of her, as opposed to a defining characteristic.  For teens suffering from OCD, this can be a powerful protagonist, once that can give them hope that they can still have meaningful lives and relationships.

In terms of a mystery or thriller, I think the story does a good job of keeping the reader engaged.  The story has lots of twists and turns, a few red herrings, and a few surprise revelations at the end.  I really enjoyed watching the mystery unfold.  The subject matter (murder, strippers, drugs, runaways) is a bit dark for teen readers, but an accurate representation of the dangers in the world.  All in all, I was impressed by this debut by Kate Ellison.

I received this book for review as part of the Amazon Vine program

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