At 15, JL Markham's life once surrounded her best friend Aubrey. The pair did everything together. High school is changing them. Aubrey's spending time with a crowd that mocks JL. JL's becoming hooked on a senior, Max, who has the bad boy persona, which doesn't matter to JL, but it seems others are dead set on branding her a "Jezebel" like the butterflies she raises.
Butterflies are the only things bringing her a sense of calm at the moment. Her mother's mental health issues and her father's extended business trip are tearing the family apart. JL's had enough, and Max's news that as soon as school's over, he's hitting the road just as Jack Kerouac did. It's up to JL to decide if she's staying or joining him.
I have mixed feelings on this book. Part of me loved it. JL is endearing. Her coming-of-age story is told between past and present. It's easy to see just how much her lack of truly responsible parents weigh on her. Having the influence of a boyfriend adding to the mix seemed genuine, and I liked him. He may be a bad boy and make some stupid mistakes along the way, but he's also shaped by his family dynamics. I was rooting for those two from the start.
The exotic butterflies play an important role in this book. They're what keeps JL grounded. As a result, there can be quite a bit of butterfly info tossed in. I found it pulled me out of the story. I'm also not as fascinated with butterflies as JL was in the story. That aspect ended up feeling like a science lesson to me.
I found myself quickly skipping past the butterfly chapters to get back to the family dynamics. I needed to know what JL would decide and why.