cover image I Lived on Butterfly Hill

I Lived on Butterfly Hill

Marjorie Agosín, trans. from the Spanish by E.M. O’Connor, illus. by Lee White. S&S/Atheneum, $16.99 (464p) ISBN 978-1-4169-5344-9

Agosín’s rich, expansive novel, based on true events in Chile during the 1970s, covers three turbulent years in Celeste Marconi’s life. Sixth-grader Celeste, surrounded by a loving family and lively friends, basks in the natural beauty of coastal Valparaíso, befriending pelicans, dreaming, and writing on her rooftop, which overlooks the harbor. Her idyllic life abruptly ends when a dictatorship takes over Chile, killing the Socialist president and removing his supporters—people like Celeste’s idealistic parents, doctors who run a clinic for the poor. Classmates begin to disappear, her parents go into hiding, and Celeste is sent to a small Maine town to live with her aunt, where she struggles with homesickness, anxiety about her parents, learning English, and making friends. As Celeste slowly comes to feel comfortable in Maine, Agosín explores the relentless mixed emotions of having two homes especially well. “It’s like I have one foot on Juliette Cove and the other in Butterfly Hill,” thinks Celeste. The book’s length and broad scope may intimidate some readers, but the realistically bittersweet ending is rewarding. Art not seen by PW. Ages 10–14. Author’s agent: Jennifer Lyons, Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency. (Mar.)