My rating: 5 of 5 stars
THE ESSENTIAL FACTS:
My name is Megan Riddick.
I am a junior in high school.
I killed a man when I was two years old.
It all started with a stuffed monkey and a butterfly.
I don't want to tell this story.
Powerful, right? Intriguing? Definitely. A fabulous read? ABSOLUTELY!
I received my copy of this eBook in exchange for a fair and honest review.
What should have been buried in the past comes back to haunt Megan Riddick during one of the most trying times of anyone's life - high school. At two years old, Megan had been chasing a butterfly and wandered out into the street in front of oncoming traffic. A young man named Bryon Exby saved her life, and in the process, lost his own leaving behind a wife and small child.
I don't remember the sirens or the screams from that terrible morning. I can't recall my mother's panic or the pain of my skinned knees. Not even Bryon Exby's strangely calm face when he looked up at the people who raced to him first. We found out his name that night when the hospital called and told us he hadn't made it. I learned all of that from other people, snatches of old news reports and witness accounts in the newspapers, and turned them into a memory that is mostly artificial. But I do remember the strange orange butterfly - bright as a drop of sun, brief as the gold light of a struck match. One flap of color that rippled and wrinkled all the fabric of fate and led me to the street where I would kill a man before I even knew my last name. And to this day the impossibly beautiful insect looks like nothing but death to me.
Megan believes the worst of herself, thinks that her small two year-old self chose to end Bryon Exby's life by running out into that street. No one she knows at school, not Alicia nor Phillip, her best friends, know about the story of the butterfly and man who saved her life. Megan hasn't been able to tell it, she has kept it quiet because of the guilt that she feels over her part in his death. This is possibly why when Charlotte Exby, the baby left without the guidance of her father, comes to find her, to offer her forgiveness for taking her father from her life even though she doesn't want to just because her father had it on his bucket list... I broke down sobbing. The relationship that is developed between first Megan and Charlotte, something tenuous and fragile forged by a horrible tragedy, turns into to something beautiful and familial involving Charlotte, Phillip and Megan.
Charlotte looked out across the empty auditorium and breathed in the power of the stage. I watched it happen as her shoulders relaxed and she leaned into one leg, comfortable, at home. "Maybe I don't hate her. She's the last thing of him that I have left. The last thing he did."
Phillip and Megan help Charlotte tick off the items on the bucket list one by one. This provides a kind of closure for both Megan and for Charlotte who both sorely need to experience something where they feel they can pay homage and respect to Bryon the Hero they never knew. Bryon's list takes them backpacking on Taum Sauk Mountain to watch a meteor shower while sleeping beneath the stars in hammocks slung between trees. It finds Megan relinquishing her lead in the school play to her understudy Charlotte so that the wish of performing on stage can be fulfilled. Bryan's list brings them closer together and brings both girls comfort and closure for what happened the day a little girl ran into the street after a pretty butterfly.
This is a beautifully written tale that took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions. I cried both tears of joy and tears of sadness, my heart soared for Charlotte when she found love, and it wept for Megan when it looked like she could lose her best friends. I watched these characters grow and fell in love with them as they struggled to find peace within themselves. Five stars well deserved and two overly enthusiastic thumbs up for a book that has captivated my heart and soul!
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