Author: Amy Gail Hansen (Check out her Author Answers!)
Genre: literary suspense
Length: 302 pages
Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: ARC, William Morrow Books booth at American Library Association conference
Plot Basics: Ruby Rousseau dropped out of Tarble University the semester before graduating, devastated by a tragic love affair. Now, still haunted by the memories that caused her to abandon a promising academic career at the women’s college, she’s thrust into her own recent past when a suitcase from another now-missing Tarble student, Beth, is delivered to her. The discovery of the suitcase forces Ruby to go back to Tarble in an attempt to understand the married professor who broke her heart, her own choices and what happened to Beth.
Banter Points: Since July, I’ve had “ALA book of choice” in my Eight-Up list and this was the first pick from that selection. Even though I came home with 11 books, there was no doubt that this was going to be the first one.
Butterfly Sister is a book for book people. It’s more literary than a lot of suspense novels, and it assumes a little bit of knowledge about other classic works of literature, though Hansen does a good job of filling a reader in without making one feel stupid for having not ever read (all of) the classics she refers to.
Also, I went to small liberal arts college (co-ed, unlike the fictional Tarble) but Hansen’s understanding of the small campus was spot on. The need to keep things quiet and appease donors is all too real. This need for silence and conformity plagues Ruby and it’s cool that the community expectations are part of the plot.
I was proud of myself for figuring out one of the twists, but Hansen twisted the plot more than once and I was surprised by several of those which is always fun.
Bummer Points: For most of the book, I kept forgetting that Ruby was supposed to be 23, roughly ten months post-college. She read like a much older character to me.
Word Nerd Recommendation: There’s a real possibility of Top Ten list status for Butterfly Sister and it will for sure be a “pusher book.”