The Butterfly Lampshade: A Novel

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In Aimee Bender’s first novel in ten years, The Butterfly Lampshade, the roots of childhood trauma stretch across decades and the definition of mental illness can be too blurry to make out when viewed up close.

Francie’s mother needs help again. She’s stopped taking her medication and is afraid she might hurt her daughter, so she calls her sister Minn and, within 48 hours, Francie is swept away to a new life in LA with her aunt, uncle, and new baby cousin, Vicky. Thus begins a lifetime of wondering who she is and what she truly wants.

The night before she leaves for LA, Francie spends the night at a babysitter’s house, where she sees a butterfly lampshade. She carries her interaction with the lampshade, and its effect on her perception of time and space, into adulthood. The shade represents something she isn’t sure is true, which makes her question so much around her that she ultimately builds a memory tent to sort the truth of her past.

Francie’s relationship with Vicky, who has always viewed her cousin as a sister, anchors Francie. Between Vicky and her tent, Francie is on her way to discovering what she needs to feel safe and whole after twenty years of blur. The magical and shifting nature of the book won’t be a fit for all readers, but I loved it.

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Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 304 pages
Publisher Anchor
Publish Date 08-Jun-2021
ISBN 9780307744180 Buy this Book
Issue December 2021
Category Popular Fiction