Book Recommendation: Of Butterflies and Bullies

I am excited to share the work of my Twitter friend, author Jenny Dalton. We are both active members of the vast #WritingCommunity on Twitter and connected with each other because our books explore a common theme: girl bullying. The more I read about her, I realize we have so much in common, not only due to our childhood wounds, but because of our journeys toward healing.

Dalton’s creative non-fiction book OF BUTTERFLIES AND BULLIES chronicles her own experience as a 10-year old girl in the 1980s. My unpublished novel, SONG OF A SOPHOMORE, while fictional, is inspired by my experience as a teen in the mid-90s. So between us, there is plenty of nostalgia for the 80s and 90s, a desire to heal our childhood wounds through writing, and the need to shed light on the timeless subject of bullying.

Ever since I interacted with Jenny Dalton online, I have been eager to get to know her and read her book, which is available as an Amazon Kindle e-book or paperback. I am happy to share my review with you on my blog. All opinions are my own.

Book Summary

OF BUTTERFLIES AND BULLIES is a YA book about transformations. It follows preteen Molly through a tumultuous year at a new school where she faces challenges fitting in, endures the wrath of the popular clique, and navigates changing friendships.

Molly and her BFF Nicole were inseparable and could tell each other anything, until the two begin attending an academically accelerated school. The school is in an affluent part of town where kids wear designer jeans, name brand polo shirts and trendy athletic shoes. While Molly’s blue collar family struggles to get by, Nicole’s parents can afford to go shopping instead of relying on hand-me downs. This was never problem before, but the new school is different.

For the first time, Molly is self-conscious of her clothing, hair and even her home. She feels uncomfortable in social situations, especially when the 10-year old girls start obsessing about hair, makeup, bras and boys, and carrying on about who’s “going with” who. Molly misses the good old days with Nicole, when they could just be kids and share each other’s secrets. Now Nicole has secrets with the other girls, and when they look at Molly and giggle, Molly knows something is wrong. Her diary entries reveal how insecure and sad Molly is feeling about not only about the mistreatment by the girls at school, but also the birth of her new sibling and all the changes that come with it.

This story is for all the bullied girls out there. You are not alone. You are not broken. You are beautiful, whole and full of possibilities. Hold your head up high.

Jenny Dalton, author

Why I Loved This Book

Dalton captures the timeless struggle of so many preteen girls who find themselves on the receiving end of girl bullying, at no fault of their own. I appreciate her honest and raw narrative told through first-person prose and her diary entries. Molly’s matter-of-fact, middle-grade voice is endearing and authentic. I can totally relate to Molly’s desire to fit in and the shock (and heartache) of being ridiculed for no apparent reason.

On her website, Dalton writes, “This story is for all the bullied girls out there. You are not alone. You are not broken. You are beautiful, whole and full of possibilities. Hold your head high.”

Although the theme of bullying may apply to tweens and teenagers, the book will resonate with adults. The story touches on some more mature topics, which reminds me of July Blume’s novels about puberty and sexuality. There are uncomfortable family dynamics at times, and a father who may drink too much. While Molly isn’t self aware enough at 10-years old to recognize the symptoms of depression, it is apparent as the story goes on that the effects of the bullying are taking a toll on her mental health. The story also broaches an often taboo subject with honesty and tact.

If you like coming-of-age stories with strong characters, tough life lessons, and an honest portrayal of adolescence, then you will enjoy this book. I strongly recommend OF BUTTERFLIES AND BULLIES to any bullied person–preteen, teen or adult–because it is a reminder you are not alone in your suffering. For those girls currently being bullied, it is a guide of how to push through the discomfort and find your light on the other side.

“I believe all of us bullied girls need to share our stories, and we need to bear witness to one another and heal with one another,” Dalton says on a Virtual Book Tour YouTube video published on her website. “This is my offering to that space. What if reading it could help heal your wound? Peel back another onion layer of the fear, an onion layer of the healing, an onion layer of the shame? It helped me get my life force back. It can help you, too, by reminding you you’re not alone and you can re-source yourself and emerge toward whatever is next for you.”

I see you, Molly… and you, Jenny. Thank you for the reminder that although we suffer from the invisible wounds of bullying, we can all make a conscious choice to see the possibilities, work toward healing, and walk into the future with our heads held high.

About Jenny Dalton

Jenny Dalton (she/her) lives in Mendocino County in northern California where she works as a facilitator and coach to empower groups and individuals to manifest their actions towards the highest good. She studied poetry for several years as a student of the renowned poet Diane di Prima and was a member of several San Francisco writing groups. She started writing in a second grade Young Authors Program and hasn’t stopped since, working in surreal poetry and creative non-fiction. She is also an avid reader.

Jenny facilitated “Sisterz to Sisterz Alliance” seminars at Girls, Inc sponsored girl empowerment camps and mentors many girls and women. She even helps over 30 orphaned girls attend private schools in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

She also loves to talk about relationships and life, cook, garden, and spend endless hours in nature, hiking or just sitting on the beach. She is a life-long learner and a graduate of Indiana University-Bloomington.

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