Rating: 4.5 out of 5
“Where you are is home…”
At age fourteen, Zelda Rossi witnessed the unthinkable, and has spent the last ten years hardening her heart against the guilt and grief. She channels her pain into her art: a dystopian graphic novel where vigilantes travel back in time to stop heinous crimes—like child abduction—before they happen. Zelda pitches her graphic novel to several big-time comic book publishers in New York City, only to have her hopes crash and burn. Circumstances leave her stranded in an unfamiliar city, and in an embarrassing moment of weakness, she meets a guarded young man with a past he’d do anything to change…
Beckett Copeland spent two years in prison for armed robbery, and is now struggling to keep his head above water. A bike messenger by day, he speeds around New York City, riding fast and hard but going nowhere, his criminal record holding him back almost as much as the guilt of his crime.
Zelda and Beckett form a grudging alliance of survival, and in between their stubborn clash of wills, they slowly begin to provide each other with the warmth of forgiveness, healing, and maybe even love. But when Zelda and Beckett come face to face with their pasts, they must choose to hold on to the guilt and regret that bind them, or let go and open their hearts for a shot at happiness.
The Butterfly Project is a novel that reveals the power of forgiveness, and how even the smallest decisions of the heart can—like the flutter of a butterfly’s wings—create currents that strengthen into gale winds, altering the course of a life forever.
My first impressions about this book were wrong. It didn’t grab me, like so many other books do, and I couldn’t work out why. I love the idea of a graphic novel writer for the main character, and the criminal past of her only friend in New York was a great backstory, but I just couldn’t get into it. Well, until the second half, that is.
I cried in the lunchroom, I cried on the train. I cried in the street. This book just got me. What’s worse, it wasn’t sadness that made the tears flow. There is a rightness to this story, one of those rare tales where you could have guessed what would happen, but the fact of it happening tugged at your emotions all the same. The feelings evoked are akin to those experienced by purveyors of viral videos, where love and charity seem to know no bounds. They drag tears from even the hardest of hearts.
This book shows the complexities of forgiveness, the thought of which can seem impossible, but the act of which can be your redemption. And not just forgiveness of others, but forgiveness of yourself.
It also explores the idea of good and evil – when does a desire for vengeance against evil become evil itself? Does an evil act make you an evil person? What about if you could have prevented evil, but didn’t? Are you good if you regret an evil act?
What I like about this novel is that even though these themes are clear, they aren’t shoved in your face. If all your looking for is a will-they-won’t-they with a bit more heart than your average romance, this book is perfect. At the same time, if you want something which takes a close look at the human condition, crime and punishment, this would also be a great choice for you.
Scott has managed to find the perfect balance of all these elements in this novel, and I would highly recommend her to any bookworm out there.
The Butterfly Project is out now, and you can buy it here. You can connect with Emma Scott on Twitter and Facebook.