Stephen Valley is a freshman in high school. Since 7th grade, he has had a crush on Monica Monroe. Ever since they were lab partners dissecting a frog, when he even let her have the honor of popping out the frog’s eyeballs, Stephen has been looking for ways to overcome his shyness and get to know Monica better. Unbeknownst to him, Monica had a similar crush on Stephen and a similar problem in overcoming her shyness. Now that Stephen’s older brother Jude had shot and killed Monica’s older sister Simone, it looks like the relationship might be going nowhere. And that is without counting the six other students Jude has killed as collateral damage.
And that is just the beginning of Butterfly Suicide by Mary Ann Loesch. Amazon classifies this novel as Teen, Young Adult, Romance, and Contemporary. I find that scary and sad but accurate. This is a roller coaster of a novel. I was surprised at the emotions this young adult novel was able to bring forth from me. Which means that I have seriously underestimated the skill and artistry exhibited by authors who choose to write in this genre.
The characters are well developed and carry the story. I wouldn’t characterize their development as complex and deep, but well-developed works. Jude starts out as pure evil and ends as pure evil (not a spoiler). Stephen’s and Jude’s mom, Mrs. Valley (the name is important here) is a truly sad and suffering creature. Why wouldn’t she be? One of her sons is pure evil. But that is not the only reason. Simone’s character is described by others; she is not around to express it herself. Simon and Stella Monroe, the parents of Monica and the dead Simone, are having a few marital problems and each of them is working out the problems in their own, unique way. There are a few supporting characters with lesser degrees of development but altogether this leaves the reader with a lot of characters and leads us to the “fatal flaw” in the novel.
There are errors which I believe to be typos. If grammar errors appear as a result, I believe those to be not true grammar errors but the result of typos. In other words, this story suffers as a result of inadequate editing. In some novels, the reader can adjust, make little “tsk-tsk” sounds and move on. In this novel, the error is jarring, reader stopping, and disappointing. It is not a grammatical error; it is a typo. I wanted to put the book down in disappointment but finished it anyway because the story is just that good. I have never given such a good story a three-star rating on Amazon for what initially appears as a minor error. But I didn’t feel the error minor, hence my title of it as a “fatal flaw.” Because it is not a spoiler I will quote it here.
“How will Mr. Valley take the news? God, no wonder he hates me.” (loc 3363).
To see why the error is “fatal”, the reader will have to read the novel. That is OK, though, this is still a good story.
The last page appears as location 3986 in my Kindle edition. The last paragraph is two lines. The one before that is three lines. And the one before that (on a previous page) is a perfect ending for this novel. The author felt the need for two additional paragraphs and that is OK. But the paragraph I think is the perfect ending almost makes up for the paragraph I will always think of as the “fatal flaw” (above).