“The journey to womanhood is different for every girl.”
In this diverse and heart-wrenching debut novel that begins in the rural country of Kentucky in 1978, two sisters create a childhood for themselves among a dark reality they cannot escape. It’s a sweeping journey of two lives forever entwined in common experience and love.
Kathleen spent the first nine years of her life lost, when the death of her infant brother led her parents into a spiraling void of grief. When Lucy was born, she was life itself. For Kathleen, Lucy was more of a child, than a younger sister. Caring for her gave Kathleen’s life meaning, opening her to a new world of love and trust. When a series of tragic events separates them, each embark on their own path. Kathleen desperate to find her sister, and Lucy learning to exist in an unforgiving world without her sister to protect her.
Author Kim Streible crafts a moving coming-of-age journey about sisterhood, the tribulations of relationships and lasting love.
“I don’t know,” Kathleen said. “Probably.”
Lucy furrowed her eyebrows. “How do you know if you were good enough to go to heaven and not hell?”
“I don’t think there is a hell.” People seemed so much better at punishing themselves. Kathleen couldn’t figure a reason for a hell.
“Where do bad people go then?”
Kathleen shrugged. “I don’t know, maybe they just die. They lie in the dark, worms all around them and they decay and just, don’t exist anymore.”
“Don’t scare me,” Lucy said.
“Kathleen, please don’t lie.”
She shut her book. “I’m not. I’m not really sure. Some people believe in heaven, some people believe in nothing. Some people believe that you live on, that you are like energy and the energy just travels on to somewhere else, like maybe to the sea, or a flower. And some people think that they just linger around.”
“Their souls?” Lucy asked.
“Yeah, their spirits, like shadows behind a curtain. They are faint, but they’re still there.”
“Oh.” Lucy curled her fingers around the edge of the bed frame. “What do you believe?”
“I hope that we get to come back and be something wonderful.”
Lucy twisted her feet. “I’d be a butterfly.”
Kathleen smiled. “Yeah? They are pretty.”
“And they can fly.” Lucy walked around the bedpost and pulled herself onto the end of Kathleen’s bed. “What would you be?”
“What’s internal mean?”
Kathleen laughed. “Not internal, eternal. It means something that goes on forever.” Kathleen crossed her legs, sitting Indian style on the bed, holding the book in her lap. “I know what I’d be,” she added, “a moonbeam.”
“A moonbeam? Would that be good?” Lucy asked.
“Sure,” Kathleen replied. “You cast down every night all over the world, people stand and look up at you from every point of the Earth. They dream of your mysteries, they tell you all of their wishes. They think you’re beautiful.” She looked at Lucy. “And you’d be part of the constellations.”
“Oh,” Lucy said. “Kathleen?”
Lucy looked at her. “If I’m a butterfly and you’re a moonbeam, then we get to see each other every night right?”
She smiled. “We sure would.”
***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review and participation in this tour
The Butterfly and the Moonbeam is a bittersweet coming of age story that celebrates the bond of sisterhood and the unconditional love that comes with growing up, confiding in each other, and learning to find beauty in life despite all the ugliness the world can throw at you.
Kathleen and Lucy are surrounded by a cloud of grief, abuse, and depression, and yet, their love for each other allows them to find magic and happiness despite everything working against them. Their bond is beautiful, strong, and potent. Their love and adoration oozes off the pages and will fill you with such warmth.
Lucy is a curious little girl. She questions everything and is enchanted by everyday simplicity. Her wide-eyed wonder is contagious and will make you want to look at the world with new eyes. When everything starts to fall apart and she begins to see the darkness, it’s like being gutted, watching some of that light fade from such a sweet child. Lucy’s sections have a consistent and playful voice, full of curiosity. You can tell her age and it’s adorable.
Kathleen has an unfortunate amount of pressure and responsibility on her shoulders, but she never once looks at Lucy as a burden,her love trumps that. This unfaltering care for her sister will earn your respect and root for her happily ever after.
There are a ton of serious and common issues that are done so well and should be talked about-alcoholism, depression, loss of a child, mental, illness, and domestic abuse all feature in this story. Kim Streible does an amazing job at showing depression as if it were another person in the room, a living and breathing entity whose presence takes over like a toxic, dark sickness.
The setting is in the 70s and the references to the time period are pretty spot on. You’ll feel transported.
If you’re not into coming of age stories or slower, everyday life drama, this may not be for you. The pacing was so slow for me. I really had to push. The story was griping, but I guess because it was a slower time, some sections really dragged and I got distracted.
Kim Streible grew up with a healthy love of books, music and movies. The telling of stories fascinated her. She has a current obsession with the band, The Pretty Reckless and has become increasingly nervous at the happenings on the Walking Dead. When she isn’t writing, you might find her pinning Batman and other goodies on Pinterest. She has authored over eight novels, including the steamy romance series Desert Pleasures, just published under the pseudonym, Zoe Blackwood.
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