Code Name: Butterfly is a short YA novel by Palestinian author Ahlam Bsharat, beautifully rendered into English by award-winning translator Nancy N. Roberts, and published in May 2016 by new UK-based independent publishing house Neem Tree Press.
I was the copy editor and fell so deeply in love with it that I’ve wangled myself a new part-time freelance job as publicist for Neem Tree Press, doing social media and working to get this lovely book into the hands of students, teachers, librarians and YA lit reviewers. The twitter account is now live: @NeemTreePress. Please follow us and do get in touch if you review children’s books and would like a review copy.
Butterfly is a feisty little novel that gives readers a moving introduction to life in the West Bank and the Israel/Palestine conflict. Intended as a YA/teenage read, I personally think it will be just as gripping for adult readers. Told from the perspective of ‘Butterfly’, a Palestinian school girl in her early teens, beset with best friend troubles, family tensions and all the confusions of puberty, not to mention a looming and confusing political environment, it’s a moving coming of age story that also deals with conflict in a more universal way.
For an independent publisher, word of mouth makes a world of difference, so if you read it and like it, please leave an online review (e.g. on Goodreads) to encourage others to pick up this funny and charming little book!
‘A powerful short novel dealing with the age-old conflict between Israel & Palestine.’
Outside in World
‘A beautiful, astounding book that daringly, yet seamlessly blends the dreamy world of adolescence with the tough questions it brings. Code Name: Butterfly speaks with intelligence, wit and irony about the injustices and implications of occupation.’
Chairman, IBBY Palestine
‘We look out through the eyes of a 14 or 15-year-old girl who doesn’t know what to think about her eyebrows, much less the two-state solution. We, like her, must start over with new vocabulary. Indeed, if Butterfly has a superpower, it’s her mastery of the power of questions. …the book’s questions strip not just Butterfly of certainty but also the reader, making it a valuable read for a teen or adult.’
Marcia Lynx Qualey, The National and ArabLit blog
‘Full of humour … brave and honest … hands-down my favourite Arabic story for young adults.’
Susanne Abou Ghaida at Kel Shahr Kteib blog (review of the Arabic original)