Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Butterfly's Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

From Goodreads:

Four very different women embark on a transformational journey that follows the migrating monarchs across the United States to Mexico. The story begins when Luz Avila's grandmother, the local butterfly lady, purchases an old, orange VW bug for a road trip home to Mexico. When she unexpectedly dies, Luz is inspired to take her grandmother's ashes home. In the manner of the Aztec myth of the goddess who brings light to the world, Luz attracts a collection of lost women, each seeking change in their lives. The Mexican people believe the monarchs are the spirits of the recently departed and Luz taps into ancient rituals and myths as she follows the spectacular, glittering river of orange monarchs in the sky to home.

From Misty:
I think the story begins not when Grandma buys the VDub but when she gets a call from one of her daughters who tells her that her other daughter, Luz's mother, is not dead these many years but is instead alive.  I think the story is about one girl's journey to Mexico, not four different girls' journey, unless I was reading a completely different novel than the book summary claimed.  But yes, Luz, did take the ashes to Mexico.

This is the second of Monroe's books that I've reviewed, and I enjoyed the book, BUT...I found the same things lacking that I did with the first one.  I had difficulty identifying with the characters.  By the end of the book, they were still strangers to me.  In fact, I kind of hated Luz's mom, Mariposa, as much as I hated Olivia in the turtle book.  Her one redeeming quality, that she was striving to overcome addiction, did little to make up for her selfishness and immaturity.  Luz, the main character, had NO characteristics.  There was nothing about her to like or dislike.  Luz didn't grow or change; nobody did, except for maybe vagabond number two, but she, see below, had nothing to do with the main storyline.  And again, I kept expecting it to be something it was not, which made it hard for me to like it for what it was.

But that said, it had its good qualities.  The storyline was okay and moved along well.  I liked that Luz picked up the other girls on her journey and took them to the next step in their own journeys, but their journeys, the things they sought for themselves, had little, no nothing, to do with theme of the book (...something about mothers I think).  I liked the girls, but they detracted from the main story; they didn't add to it.  And they made for a lot of unnecessary scenes, and also made me wonder why Luz thought it would be fitting for those girls, compete strangers to her dead grandmother, to write on and glue to and basically deface the box of ashes, which, let's face it, was a weird and kind of macabre character.

This was a nice clean read.  In terms of content, it does mention that Luz sleeps with her boyfriend, but I would recommend it to anyone that has a mother.  I've read several good reviews from people who think this book is fabulous, but for me it left more questions unanswered than it even knew it asked.

1 comment:

Heather said...

Nice review! I think it's harder for me to review a book that I struggled with than one that I loved. Can't wait to see what you read next! =]