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  • Writer's pictureLilac Mills

The Butterfly Effect by Rachel Mans McKenny


Is there such a thing as an anti-social butterfly? If there were, Greta Oto would know about it--and totally relate. An entomologist, Greta far prefers the company of bugs to humans, and that's okay, because people don't seem to like her all that much anyway, with the exception of her twin brother, Danny, though they've recently had a falling out. So when she lands a research gig in the rainforest, she leaves it all behind.

But when Greta learns that Danny has suffered an aneurysm and is now hospitalized, she abandons her research and hurries home to the middle of nowhere America to be there for her brother. But there's only so much she can do, and unfortunately just like insects, humans don't stay cooped up in their hives either--they buzz about and... socialize. Coming home means confronting all that she left behind, including her lousy soon-to-be sister-in-law, her estranged mother, and her ex-boyfriend Brandon who has conveniently found a new non-lab-exclusive partner with shiny hair, perfect teeth, and can actually remember the names of the people she meets right away. Being that Brandon runs the only butterfly conservatory in town, and her dissertation is now in jeopardy, taking that job, being back home, it's all creating chaos of Greta's perfectly catalogued and compartmentalized world. But real life is messy, and Greta will have to ask herself if she has the courage to open up for the people she loves, and for those who want to love her.

The Butterfly Effect is an unconventional tale of self-discovery, navigating relationships, and how sometimes it takes stepping outside of our comfort zone to find what we need the most.

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There seems to be a trend for novels with people who are odd-bods in them - and I love them. Greta is socially awkward and prefers insect to people, especially butterflies. I also loved the reference to Edward N. Lorenz's theory that the tiniest of things can have big consequences.

This novel is concerned with individual growth and maturing, and although there is an element of romance in the story, it's far from the driving force. Greta seemed to me to be stuck in a childlike mental stage of seeing things in black and white, and when she is forced to deal with issues and people she doesn't want to, it sets in motion a chance for her to develop and see the world in shades of grey.

An interesting and unusual premise, with a strangely relatable main character.

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