Paper Butterflies

Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield

June’s life at home with her stepmother and stepsister is a dark one—and a secret one. She is trapped like a butterfly in a net.

But then June meets Blister, a boy in the woods. In him she recognises the tiniest glimmer of hope that perhaps she can find a way to fly far, far away from her home and be free. Because every creature in this world deserves their freedom… But at what price?


Annabel Bassett- Sir Robert Woodard Academy

27th November 2017 at 6:03 pm

Annabel (SRWA):

I thought that Paper Butterflies was a fantastic novel. It was very emotional and sometimes even mysterious! I thought that June was a very brave and determined character. I admired her for how she embraced her situation with her cruel stepmother. I also found that the book had an unpredictable plot which made it all the better. Overall I thought that the novel was wonderfully well written and would definitely recommend it for people who are 11+.

Emmy and Izzy Year 11, Mayfield School

27th November 2017 at 3:06 pm

Emmy and Izzy (Mayfield) Year 10:

We found the plot of this book interesting, controversial and important to today’s readers. Although it was shocking, such things were necessary as these events sadly do take place. We enjoyed the characters as we found them unique, well developed, but universal. The title was quite significant due to the parallel between paper butterflies and the character June. We enjoyed the juxtaposition between Blister’s family and June’s family. We considered that the contradicting atmospheres well represented what someone experiencing such ordeals would feel. We felt that the sudden reveal of what happened to June was shocking and unjust, but necessary. 8/10

Jess, Year 10 (Causeway School)

24th November 2017 at 10:41 am

Jess (Causeway) Year 10:

A very emotional book but gripping right until the end. i loved every second. The way the book is written really makes you feel as though you are part of the story, instead of just being the reader.

Aoibh, Year 10 Mayfield

21st November 2017 at 5:06 pm

Aoibh (Mayfield) Year 10:

I felt that Paper Butterflies’ protagonist June was a likeable character, who I felt empathetic for throughout the narration of her tragic backstory. I enjoyed the reoccurring shift in timeline and found the plot highly emotive, although a bit too intense at times. It is not a happy read, but certainly an interesting one. 7/10

Isabel (Chailey)

6th November 2017 at 8:25 pm

Isabel (Chailey):

I loved this book. The way it was written was amazing. I really enjoyed the small sections of future and how they seemed to mislead the reader into believing there’s a happy ending. They make the reader speculate their own ideas and possible storylines to the book. The twist was amazing and I never saw it coming. It was a very emotive book and throughout every part of the journey June’s character was written so well you just had to empathise with her and feel sorry for what she was going through. The topic was so well written about and it’s not often that authors write so well about such a serious topic. I really really loved this book. Sadly I don’t think I would of originally chosen it to read. I’m so glad I did read it though. 10/10

Bradley, SRWA

17th October 2017 at 1:38 pm

Bradley (SRWA):

This book was about a girl whose mum died and is living with her stepmother and step sister. Her stepmother Kathleen treated her terribly and made her fat and her step sister who wasn’t as bad and her dad. When I was reading it, it was with mixed emotions; happy, sad, relief, anger and there was a bit of romance in the book too. It was very easy to understand and I could follow the story fine. It wasn’t predictable at all. Five stars.


16th October 2017 at 5:44 pm

Khadijah (Ratton):

Paper Butterflies is touching story about a girl feeling trapped in her own house with her stepmother and sister not knowing the secrets her dad kept hidden. June finds Blister who supports her and helps her through her difficult times, as the story goes they become really close and June realises she’s stronger than she knows and can fly with broken wings because they’re broken they’re fixed. Just like her.

Sam (Ratton)

15th October 2017 at 4:09 pm

Sam (Ratton):

Heathfield has written this book as June, who is struggling with her stepmother and her stepsister. The twists and turns up to a certain point are heartwarming.
As June looks back on her life, she tells us what happened behind closed doors, the good, and particularly, the bad. Blister shows her everything she could be. Their relationship is heartwarming and honest, even through the heartwrenching twist towards the end.
I give this book 9/10


12th October 2017 at 9:09 am

I enjoyed this book because there was always something happening, however I felt at some points there was too much happening at once.


12th October 2017 at 9:08 am


This book is a real page turner but it was sad at the same time. Our school found it confusing at the end!

Ashley Wang, Year 9, Roedean School

11th October 2017 at 11:48 am

Ashley (Roedean) Year 9:

This is a story of finding courage, forgiveness and love. June, constantly abused by her stepmother, has her world filled with fear. When she is on the brink of devastation, she finds Blister, a friend who can take her mind off to another world. But good things don’t last for long and when her most precious things are destroyed, things go out of control. With the help of people who she loves, June walks out of the shadow her stepmother casts.
A wound can heal. A person can have hope. And a butterfly can fly with broken wings.
This book taught me that even after all the hurt and all the traumas it is still possible to give up hate and forgive those who hurt you. And that it is so important not to give up because love exists and some one will be there for you. Although sometimes it may be dark, you can always find your way out if you look for the light.

Abegail Morley

10th October 2017 at 2:58 pm

Ms Morley (Benenden):

Instructions for a second-hand heart is a book by Tamsyn Murray. The book switches perspective pretty much every chapter and it follows the lives of two teenagers, who meet under unfortunate circumstances. The first character we meet is Jonny. He starts by telling us that he is a robot, so even by the first line I was drew in and already interested in Jonny’s story. He goes on to tell the reader that he suffers from a failing heart and is in the hospital waiting for a heart donor.

The second character we meet is Niamh, and then her brother. We know by the fifth line that they are twins and are very competitive. The reader gets the impression that Niamh is quite a dark, almost gothic person, polar opposite to her twin brother, Leo, who is described as a Labrador puppy, I think a very affective comparison. By the end of the first chapter from Niamh’s view, we already know that Leo died in one of their competitions and I already had a suspicion he would be Jonny’s heart donor.

Over the rest of the book, we find out that Jonny proceeds to fall in love with Niamh and the relationship falls apart when he tells her how he knows her…

At the end of the book there is a well thought-out twist and it makes sense, though at the time I found it very sad as I had come to like Em through her care for Jonny and selflessness.

I think that the book has a nice flow to it, though I would have liked to see a bit more depth to the characters, though I especially liked the 1st person view, without the insights into the characters’ minds I think I might have got lost in the plot. My criticism is that the plot was fairly predictable right from the beginning and I don’t think the blurb was very affective.

I like the book a lot and I think the ending felt right, though slightly cheesy. I think that the blurb on the back should give a bit more of a hint at the plot as opposed to what felt like the prologue to the book. Overall a well written book that takes the reader through a variety of emotions.

Abegail Morley

10th October 2017 at 2:47 pm

Ms Morley (Benenden)

I won’t lie and say this book has a happy ending. However, this doesn’t make it any less worthy to read. Paper Butterflies tells the story of June, a young girl living a dark life, both physically and mentally abused by her stepmother Katherine, of which her father is oblivious to, blinded by love. However, Katherine isn’t the only one who can keep a secret. June meets Blister, a young boy in the woods, who can craft paper objects with his hands. Blister keeps June safe, keeps her sane.
For me, a couple scenes in the book really made me turn the page. Even in the beginning, you know this isn’t a bedtime story. Katherine forces June to drink glass, after glass, after glass of water, and refuses to let her use the bathroom. This causes June to wet herself on the bus, an embarrassing and humiliating situation.
Another very dark scene was the page where June’s classmates force her down to the ground and paint her dark skin white. This is a very deep and emotional scene; it really makes you realise just how rashly people will act to make everyone the same.
Overall, I would highly recommend Paper Butterflies to a mature reader. Anyone younger than the age of ten might find this book a little bit too scary. However, this doesn’t mean they cannot read it in the future.

Abegail Morley

9th October 2017 at 5:06 pm

Ms Morley (Benenden):

I really loved the way this book was written as it made me want to read page after page! I really enjoyed the storyline. It was definitely unexpected when she found Blister which made me want to cling on and keep reading.

To be honest, I didn’t really like the ending – not what it was about or how it was written, I just wanted to find out what happened next!

Overall I loved this book and would like to see a sequel.

Priya Year 9 Roedean

29th September 2017 at 12:02 pm

Priya (Roedean) Year 9:

Paper Butterflies is a beautiful, heartbreaking novel about a girl named June and her struggle against her abusive stepmother. She is abused day and night, emotionally and physically (and how she reacts to this almost causes devastating results for her and her family). But then she meets Blister, a boy who becomes her friend. He is her refuge, her escape from the hellish household she is forced to endure, and she keeps him a secret. She constantly visits his house (as well as the abandoned trailers that June and Blister now use as their special place) and spends time with his loving parents and six siblings, most of which are adopted.

This book is incredible moving and sad, so have a box of tissues ready when reading this! The writing is beautiful, and really conveys emotion so much that you can actually feel what June must have felt when being treated the way she was. The contrast between the extremely horrific scenes of abuse and sadness and the happy, peaceful sections of the book gives an uplifting feel to the book alongside the hardships depicted.

Many other situations are shown in this story, as well as the obvious and consistent theme of child abuse, but we also see June facing issues of racism because she is mixed race. Her mother died, leaving her with her white skinned father and stepmother and stepsister. Her race is a constant target for Kathleen (her stepmother), and the children at school. One of Blister’s youngest siblings, Tom, suffers from cystic fibrosis, which is a condition that means that his lungs don’t work properly, and his life will end far before his time. We see the family coping with this, and how Tom lives with his condition. It’s clear that Paper Butterflies looks at life from so many different perspectives that it adds a depth that few other stories can claim to have.

Something that you might not expect from this book is that it changes the way you see life and death. It shows how easy it is for life to be taken, to give up, to lose and gives some insight as to what really happens after. This is only mentioned in a few lines to give more depth to the story, but it’s interesting to think that we don’t really know what happens, and that instead of a void, Death may just be a gateway.

Looking at writing, this book gives off a depressing feel, mainly from the lack of exclamation points, question marks or much interesting punctuation at all from the description. Most of it doesn’t even contain commas, leaving short, ‘stumped’ sentences. This gives a sort of halted ‘voice’ (for want of better word) to the novel, which gives off a deeper more symbolic meaning, implying that there’s no point in trying to make it interesting because life is so bland and pointless (to our protagonist, June).

All in all, this is a beautiful book, written from perspectives that see life as far from perfect. There is a shocking twist towards the end, and all in all this book will tear you to pieces. As the same has been in both the books I have reviewed so far, I would not recommend this to the faint hearted. If you like ‘happy’ stories then this isn’t for you. If you think you can stomach this, I would highly recommend this as it is truly an incredible, game-changing book.

Saoirse (Hurstpierpoint) Year 9

22nd September 2017 at 10:38 am

Saoirse (Hurstpierpoint) Year 9:

This book was beautifully written and in equal parts sad and thoughtful. The ending was shocking and very emotional. I loved it!

Polly (Benenden) Year 9

21st September 2017 at 3:01 pm

Polly (Benenden) Year 9:

This book was funny, happy and heartbreakingly sad all at once. While reading it I laughed, cried and was absolutely hooked by its story.

Paper Butterflies is the sort of book you will absolutely hate – it terrified me! But also a book you will love. It draws you in – and the brutality some scenes make the happy scenes seem so much lighter.

I eagerly followed June’s life story there – and every bit of harm and hurt that hit June was hit with it too. I genuinely felt ill at times!

June lives with her father, stepmother and stepsister. She and her father have always been close, but when Kathleen (her stepmother) who abuses June terribly behind his back, she finds she is slipping away from him. June lives a dark and secret life where nobody believes her, until she meets Blister, a whisper of courage and hope.

Heathfield is an amazing author and I can’t wait to read more of her books.

“Today I’ll tell him, Today I’ll tell him everything”.

Tatiana (Benenden) Year 9

21st September 2017 at 3:00 pm

Tatiana (Benenden) Year 9:

Paper Butterflies was full of different emotions, some sad some happy. When reading this book, I did not read it all at once, but in chunks and honestly, I really wanted to read it all in one sitting because it was so breath-taking and captivating to read.

The plot, in my opinion, was well thought out and clear. She described the characters perfectly so that you could imagine what they might look like. There weren’t too many characters so you lost track of who is who, but you knew who they were when they were mentioned.

June’s life at home is a hard one; she struggles through each day living with her step-mother, step-sister and her father, although he is not around much. Her step-mother mistreats her, forcing her to do things that she does not want to do and her step-sister is too scared to stand up to her own mother to try and stop all these things, but sometimes she plays along with her mother.

There are times in the book when you feel sorry for June, like when her step-mother mistreats her, but there are times when you think that June’s life could not be any better, like when she meets Blister, a boy who lives in the woods.

Overall, I think that Paper Butterflies is definitely not a book to miss, if you like a book that takes you through an emotional roller coaster and lots of different questions, like will June tell anyone? Will she find a better life? Then you should give this book a try.

Julia (Roedean)

16th September 2017 at 10:36 pm

Julia (Roedean):

Paper Butterflies is an amazing book, it tells a story of June’s difficult life with her evil stepmother and step sister, when all of a sudden she meets Blister. Blister is a glimmer of hope for June. Lisa Heathfield takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions, from happy to crying. I 110% recommend this book!

Lydia (Hurstpierpoint) Year 9

15th September 2017 at 10:50 am

Lydia (Hurstpierpoint) Year 9:

I found this book incredibly gripping, and with some chapters shifting timeline, it kept the suspense until the last few chapters. The connection between the two main characters is so strong and makes you feel so much despair for them as the book goes on as there is an underlying secret the whole time. I really enjoyed this book and it was a real rollercoaster to read, and the ending had a heart warming twist. I would definitely recommend this to anyone.

Molly (Roedean)

7th September 2017 at 8:24 am

Molly (Roedean):

This was a book that you couldn’t put down, I read it in two days it was gripping

Scarlett (Roedean)

4th July 2017 at 9:12 pm

Scarlett (Roedean):

Lisa Heathfield breaks hearts with her most recent book Paper Butterflies. It is about a young girl named June, who, following the death of her mother, suffers in a home with an abusive stepmother, an unkind stepsister and an unaware father. June meets a boy named Blister, who becomes her friend. He changes her life and with him she forgets the terror that she faces at home. There are so many exciting twists in this book, it is a roller coaster ride of emotions, both hatred and love. I recommend it for 12-14 year olds and I rate it 10/10.

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