Mar 142016

Cover for The Fall of Butterflies by Andrea Portes.Publishers Weekly: As with Anatomy of a Misfit (2014), Portes’s second YA novel has a seductive zaniness and almost unstoppable exuberance. Sixteen-year-old Willa Parker, a small-town girl and native Iowan, reluctantly heads east to a fancy New England boarding school, where she meets Remy Taft, an infamous student from a famous family, who adopts Willa like she’s a wide-eyed puppy. Though it takes some wading through Willa’s mile-a-minute internal monologue in the opening chapters, once her adventures with Remy begin, the story turns into a heartfelt, hilarious thrill. Willa’s dry observations can be laugh-out-loud funny (“I’m not sure what the cutoff point is for gyrating in sparkly clothes, but I can tell you some of these people are really pushing it,” she says of the crowd at a Brooklyn club). But Willa’s early announcement of a plan to kill herself and other foreshadowing hint that Portes’s characters are careening toward tragedy, with Remy at the center of a brewing storm. Willa’s memorable voice and humor, as well as her longing to cultivate relationships that will anchor her more firmly to the world, will linger with readers.