I didn’t realize what Kara in Red Butterfly and I had in common until I was twenty-five pages into the story when she describes her “one blunt hand” that she always keeps hidden in her sleeve.
I couldn’t help but think that when I finally write my own story, I hope it takes at least that long to get to describing my limb difference. It may be the first thing that most people notice when they see me, but it doesn’t have to be the first part of my story or even the main part of my story.
It isn’t the main part of Kara’s story either. Her story is about family and belonging and how messy and difficult those things can get. I don’t have personal experience with Chinese culture or international adoption, so I can’t speak to those aspects of Kara’s story. I can say that it was really nice to read about a limb difference that wasn’t a trauma, and I can happily report that Kara doesn’t struggle to do anything. She rides a bike and does all sorts of other tasks that people would typically expect she couldn’t do. Those things aren’t a big deal.
That, honestly, kind of warms my heart a little bit.
My story isn’t about trauma, and my only struggle is convincing people I’m not struggling. It feels really good to see a middle grade novel that gets that. I would recommend Red Butterfly to young readers (ages 10-12) who are interested in a thoughtful story written in lyrical verse.
More about me and my limb difference on Fake Arm 101.