This Book Will Change Your Life.

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  • This Book Will Change Your Life - The Butterfly Girl by Rene Denfeld.

    As I read The Butterfly Girl by Rene Denfeld I was reminded of a story about Stanley Kubrick. I'm paraphrasing quite a bit, but he was asked if he felt disdain for filmmakers who directed movies that earned $100 million. Kubrick replied, that to the contrary he was envious, and that he would be happy to do so himself, he just didn't know how. I was reminded of this, because as painful a world The Butterfly Girl immerses the reader in is - though hopeful too, promise - it is so clearly a book people will want to read. There is a rhythm and flow to the writing, which draws you in. The chapters are short and come fast, shifting between the points of view of Naomi, the child finder, and Celia, the lost child. And these are characters who feel real. They have depth, personal stories. There is also urgency, and mystery, and a drive towards some kind of resolution, even as there are times you want to avert your eyes and turn away from the page, worried about what might come next. There is even a satisfying conclusion, not that such conclusions are required, and no spoilers mind you, but a conclusion such as the one we're given, is appreciated when there is so much violence and sadness to sift through in getting there. There are also enough clues to suggest that if you like these characters, and we do, that more adventures might await them. I can't help but think then, that one could diagram Denfeld's approach to all of this and deconstruct how consciously writing a page-turner might unfold, because it is that, and like Kubrick - and how's that for a healthy dose of narcissism - I don't know that I know how to write such a book. Most of us don't. And by most of us I am referring to writers, but this applies to most artists as well. How do we create something popular? Something the public wants to consume? Denfeld is on to something and I hope to get her on This Podcast WIll Change Your Life some time and ask her just how she approached all of this. However, that's not all I want to ask her about. Because experiencing The Butterfly Girl as a page-turner, which I consumed in quick, massive gulps, is not the only way I experienced this book. Now, doing so wouldn't minimize the craft or impact of Denfeld's work, but it would overlook her exceptionally keen gift for writing about the experience of violence, physical and sexual, the objectification of girls, trauma and those who survive it. This too then of Denfeld's and it takes the book from page-turner to study. Though not a study that is cold or removed, but one built on empathy and the desire to craft an understanding of what this looks like. Particularly in terms of women, and more specifically, the young girls who populate this work. None of which is easy to read or take-in, but in Denfeld's hands it's handled deftly, and kindly, and that too is worthy of envy. Will it change your life? It will. Will it change mine? As a reader it has, and as a writer, I hope so.