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I Lived on Butterfly Hill

Review

I Lived on Butterfly Hill

Eleven-year-old Celeste Marconi, who lived with her parents, abuela (grandmother), and nanny in the port city of Valparaiso, Chile, had no idea that her happy and carefree life was about to be turned upside down. As news spread that the newly-appointed Chilean president was overthrown by a dictator, Celeste's joy was quickly overshadowed by fear, especially when some of her classmates mysteriously began disappearing. Just when Celeste thought that she couldn't handle another bout of terror, her parents, who were doctors and seen by the new government as subversives for aiding the poor,  decide to go into hiding. And worse --- they tell Celeste that she must leave her beloved Butterfly Hill (her home, named after her favorite flower) to live with her aunt in America.
 
Told in first person, Celeste narrates her life's journey during a turbulent time in Chile's history. Parallel to Celeste's experiences, award-winning Chilean poet Agosin knows, first-hand, what it was like to live in fear --- she escaped the horrors of Pinochet's 17-year dictatorship by moving to the US. In her first book geared for young adults, Agostin has taken her experiences and created a story of courage against all odds. Tightly woven with historical facts, Celeste is confronted with a plethora of obstacles --- both in her homeland and during her three-year stay with her aunt in Juliette Cove, Maine.
 
Masterfully and beautifully written, Agostin has produced an all-time classic.
 
Agosin' s narrative is remarkably laced with poetic imagery of beauty, love, and hope in the midst of horrific crimes toward humanity. Coupled with this imagery is the handful of strong role models who help mold how Celeste will ultimately address tough decisions. The challenges that Celeste faces are well balanced with her dreams of becoming a writer some day, as well as the subtle nuances of nature that attract her senses.
 
I LIVED ON BUTTERFLY HILL is a longish story, but one that indeed needs to be told since there are very few pieces of literature covering this time period that are written specifically for young adults. Each chapter is brief, not only keeping the narrative crisp and moving, but also riveting from beginning to end. Masterfully and beautifully written, Agosin has produced an all-time classic.

Reviewed by Anita Lock on March 7, 2014

I Lived on Butterfly Hill
by Marjorie Agosin

  • Publication Date: March 4, 2014
  • Genres: Culture, Historical Fiction, Youth Fiction
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 1416953442
  • ISBN-13: 9781416953449