Mar 102016

Cover for The Fall of Butterflies by Andrea Portes.Kirkus: See the girl on the train, the white one “with the frizzy red hair and funny mouth”? That’s 16-year-old Willa Parker. Willa has a simple two-point plan: move to the East Coast…and kill herself.

Willa leaves her hometown of What Cheer, Iowa (you heard that right), to attend The Pembroke School and (presumably) go on to Princeton, because her wealthy economist mother (who divorced Willa’s father and left them with nothing) says she “should.” Willa’s plan is derailed when she meets the ultraprivileged, uber-hip Remy Taft (yes, related to the president), the oddly friendless queen of Pembroke. The girls develop a close friendship, complete with witty-cute banter, a late-night joy ride on a stolen golf cart, and frequent Ecstasy trips. As Remy pushes Willa out of her comfort zone, Willa forgets her suicide plan, but it soon becomes apparent self-absorbed Remy has several secrets of her own. As Willa tries to save her best friend from destroying herself, she’s also figuring out whether or not she’s neighboring Witherspoon Prep hottie Milo Hesse’s girlfriend. Surrounded by wealth, Willa often questions the unfairness of privilege; her scholarship status and Midwest origins often make her feel inferior and out of place. Her first-person narration is self-deprecating, deeply thoughtful, and thoroughly funny, with a sometimes-chiding direct address that pulls readers into her confidence.

Snarky and painfully astute. But in a good way.