cover image The Butterfly's Daughter

The Butterfly's Daughter

Mary Alice Monroe, S&S/Gallery, $25 (400p) ISBN 978-1-4391-7061-8

Luz Avila's mother abandoned her when she was a very young child to be raised by her grandmother, who she calls Abuela. When Luz is a grown woman, Abuela insists on making a trip to her home village, Angangueo, in Mexico, where the monarch butterflies migrate each year, but Luz is reluctant to interrupt her life. Abuela dies before they can make the trip, and Luz, tormented by regrets, decides to make the journey with Abuela's ashes, driving from Milwaukee to Mexico, following the path of the butterflies. Along the way, Luz meets extraordinary women who transform her: a tough but gentle young girl scarred by life; a free-spirited wanderer; a prim and proper woman who has lost opportunities. Arriving in San Antonio, Tex., to find her aunt, Luz meets her mother, who she had always believed dead. Now Luz must face her mother's reappearance in her life and get her grandmother's ashes to Mexico for the Day of the Dead. Monroe (Time Is a River) has succeeded, in her third novel, in taking a straightforward coming-of-age story and adding a Mexican twist to it, but the characters are stock and the outcome predictable, though readers who take comfort in knowing what comes next will not be disappointed. (May)