cover image The Fall of Butterflies

The Fall of Butterflies

Andrea Portes. HarperTeen, $17.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-231367-6

As with Anatomy of a Misfit (2014), Portes’s second YA novel has a seductive zaniness and almost unstoppable exuberance. Sixteen-year-old Willa Parker, a small-town girl and native Iowan, reluctantly heads east to a fancy New England boarding school, where she meets Remy Taft, an infamous student from a famous family, who adopts Willa like she’s a wide-eyed puppy. Though it takes some wading through Willa’s mile-a-minute internal monologue in the opening chapters, once her adventures with Remy begin, the story turns into a heartfelt, hilarious thrill. Willa’s dry observations can be laugh-out-loud funny (“I’m not sure what the cutoff point is for gyrating in sparkly clothes, but I can tell you some of these people are really pushing it,” she says of the crowd at a Brooklyn club). But Willa’s early announcement of a plan to kill herself and other foreshadowing hint that Portes’s characters are careening toward tragedy, with Remy at the center of a brewing storm. Willa’s memorable voice and humor, as well as her longing to cultivate relationships that will anchor her more firmly to the world, will linger with readers. Ages 14–up. (May)