The Butterfly Prison

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2000613043

“They stole our humanity, and now we’re taking it back”.
This is not an easy book to describe. It is certainly not structured like a conventional book. Other reviews have described it as a rich tapestry or a series of vignettes. I think that is an apt description. The book screams against injustice with polemics rich in their incisiveness interspersed with the coming of age stories of two characters who are the victims of poverty and violence. Set in Sydney it captures the contrasts of the city very well, the realities of struggling aginst low self-esteem, of alienation and living with a troubled childhood.
The two main characters have only the most fleeting (but vivid) of connections possible. The connection, however, remains imprinted on the memory like much of life’s events that appear in the same way- moments that become an abstraction in later years, seemingly unimportant, but vividly imprinted.
The novel is beautifully written. Its beauty comes from its descriptiveness of resilience in a world that is stifling, impoverished, mundane and stultified. It is, in essence, tender and gentle in the face of brutality.
Both of the main characters have one thing in common; the struggle to survive and to find their humanity. That is the enduring theme of the novel. These are stories that are not normally told; stories of the dispossessed, people who’ve been shoved aside struggling to find their space in the world and stand on their own two feet.
As the characters in the story take shape, the book solidifies and gains greater form. The opening sequences are important as they paint very accurately a picture of the world we live in; its cruelty, its injustices and despite everything its beauty.
Importantly the story reminds us we must struggle for a better world, and only in doing so can we transform ourselves.
I think Tamara Pearson has given a lot of herself in this novel; her passion, intelligence and the wisdom gained from personal experience. It’s my hope she writes again.