By Mary Alice Monroe
Complimentary copy given to me by Mary Alice Monroe
LIFE IS MORE ABOUT THE JOURNEY THAN THE DESTINATION.
Butterflys Daughter, takes place in Milwaukee. It is the story of Luz( means light), Esperanza(star), her Abuela. Her Abuela is the Butterfly lady, she teaches the children about the monarch butterflies.
Her Abuela has taught her as a small child mexican folklore and traditions. But, Luz only wants to be American. Her Abuela has been raising her since she was a little girl, since her mother died.
Luz, works in the local factory trying to make ends meet for herself and her grandmother. Her grandmother told her her mother passed away many years ago. Her father left her when she was born.
One day out of the blue, her Abuela tells her we should take a trip to Mexico. We need to follow the butterflies to the sanctuaries in Mexico, and to celebrate the El Dia de Muerta. (the day of the dead). She want to see the family. (There is alliterative motive, we find out later in the book, what). Abuela starts to make arrangements. She buys Luz a orange VW bug, that is old as the hills. She spends the last of their money. Luz doesn't understand her grandmother's incidence to go to Mexico.
Ultimately her grandmother dies. All her relatives she has that she knows of is in Mexico, except for her Tia Maria. The family has lost touch for years. She can't get in touch with any of her relations. she feels totally alone. She does not know anything about her family. She walks into the garden, and sees a Monarch butterfly. The butterfly doesn't want to leave the garden. Luz believes this is her grandmother's spirit sending her a message.
She believes that her Abuela is sending her a message to go down to Mexico to bury her ashes, and to follow the Monarch butterflies migration to the mountainous sanctuaries of Mexico. Luz feels guilty that she kept putting her grandmother off. Now, she decides she will honor her grandmother and go. She tells her boyfriend she is going in the VW, beetle called El Toro.(the bull). Sully, her boyfriend doesn't want her to go.
She doesn't get far, and the El Toro breaks down. In the meantime she gets a waitressing job, temporarily. She befriends a pregnant waitress, named Ofelia. and is able to work until the El Toro is fixed.
Once the car is fixed, she talks Ofelia to travel with her.They travel to Kansas to find, Ophelia's mother. But, her mother is gone. But, she ends up staying. During the time she is in Kansas, Luz befriends Margaret. She asks Margaret to take a chance and come with her. They both travel on to a camping ground where they meet Stacie. Stacie is a colorful person and a bit rough around the edges. Stacie travels with them for a short distance.
I am not going to spoil anything else. There is a twist that may surprise you. Because I was surprised where Mary Alice Monroe was taking us. But, I enjoyed the journey.
During the trip the woman make the same journey as the Monarch butterfly. We learn that butterflies migrate like birds. They migrate south in winter, and come back in the spring. The whole entire trip takes four generations. When they migrate, they travel, like it is a traffic jam during thanksgiving. They come all at once. Do you know they migrate to the mountains in the sanctuaries in the mountains.
Luz travels to Texas then on to Mexico. She learns about her families Mexican traditions, myths etc. We also learn about the spirits of the dead departed during the celebration of El Dia de Muerto. This celebration is during the first few days of November.
I communicated with Mary Alice Monroe for our Temple's Auction. I had asked while communicating if she would be interested in allowing me to review her next novel. I did not know what to expect. I thought it would be another "chick-lit", or another southern read. I was totally off. It was nothing like that. It was a total enjoyment, a breath of fresh air. I have never read a book that so, satisfied my "soul", and moving, and awe inspiring. When I finished the novel, all I could say is "Wow". I have been telling everyone that will listen you must read this book.
The story is full of hidden meaning, playing on words, with traditions, folklore, mysticm, and spritualism.
The novel is a mother-daughter-grandmother novel. It is a good novel to give to someone you totally care about. The book is up lifting, and full of warmth and love. You can tell the author put all of herself into this novel, and did her research. I did enjoy reading the prologue of the myth of the monarch butterfly. Also in the beginning of each chapter it tells you the change of the monarch butterfly has to endure.
Another thing through the entire novel, which is rare. The last time I did this was when Sidney Sheldon was still alive and writing. I would see his novels as a movie. That is how I read this book. It is very vivid and fluid, and poetic, and discriptive. I could see the monarch butterflies flying through the sanctuaries like a blanket of orange covering the mountain sanctuaries. How beautiful. I wish I could go there to see it. The closest I will be is in my mind and imagination.
Luz follows the migration of the monarch butterfly on her journey as a caterpillar to a butterfly. She goes through her own metamorphosis from a scared, lonely child to a beautiful independent, resilient, confident woman of self discovery with the help of her four compadres. She travels to Mexico and learns about the old Aztec folklore, and meets her many cousins and aunts and uncles. There she travels to the butterfly sanctuary, she has metamorphosed and accepted her mother's past.
I went to the luncheon hosted by the Moveable Feast in Litchfield. I met Mary Alice Monroe. What a treat to listen to her speak about her research about the butterflies and how she put her novel together. She is not what you expect.
I have gone to several author signings up north in NJ where I am from. I have gone to a few luncheons with the moveable feast. I have never seen a author come up to you and introduce her/himself, and chatting away. It just blew me away. Most authors I have seen, just plop themselves at the podium look bored and wait to start. She was so friendly, and was very interested in what people said to her. Not bored with the conversation. If you can try to come out to see her if she is coming out to your area. Mary Alice will be attending the SC Literary Festival this weekend. She will be at Brookgreen Gardens, in Litchfield to release the butterflies in the butterfly sanctuary at the end of May.
You can also go down to my other post to read about the novel at the first half of the novel. I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I did writing this post. Leave your comments. I would love to know what you think.
Our book club, 38th Ave. Diva Readers has selected Butterflys Daughter for July. I am leading the discussion. I am so hoping that Mary Alice will speak to us through speaker phone.
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