Other People’s Butterflies
Publication date: June 22nd 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Gwen Foster has never been kissed. But when she gets the chance to finally see what all the hype is about, it’s with her best friend’s crush. Embroiled in relationship drama she doesn’t understand, and ostracized from her friend group, Gwen escapes the angst by using her favorite femme fatale as a role model… and makes snooping on her classmates her new pastime.
Gwen’s detective work appears to be going well, until an unknown social media account starts spilling all the scandalous personal details she’s uncovered. Now this wannabe spy must stop whoever is behind it before everyone’s dirty laundry is aired, and Gwen is forced to finish high school without any friends.
Other People’s Butterflies is a coming-of-age contemporary mystery about not needing to find your first love – but yourself – and how to mend the relationships that matter to you.
Two hours later, I have a new favorite movie. I also have a new favorite character and her name is Lana Barrington. She’s a badass double agent (or possibly a triple agent or a double reverse quadruple agent – the plot of Dead Tulips is pretty confusing) who’s so devious that her own dad nicknames her “Poison Candy”. She’s very femme fatale-ish, with black hair and blood-red lips. She wears this pearl necklace, and one of the pearls is full of cyanide in case she ever finds herself in a jam. In the movie she gets into, like, seventeen jams, but she never bites down on the cyanide pearl because she always finds a way to wiggle out of it. She also has a little black book, which looks empty because she writes in invisible ink, and she keeps information about everyone she meets in it.
I didn’t get the point of the little black book at first, because she wasn’t writing down state secrets or anything – it was all stuff like which cocktail waitress a married man flirts with at a bar, or who’s been pawning their grandmother’s jewelry. Gossipy stuff. But then there’s a scene where a guy asks her about it and she says “Information is currency. And I mean to be very rich.”
By the time I leave the cinema, it’s dark and the air is biting cold. My breath swirls around my face like smoke. On my way to the bus stop I nip into Superdrug and buy a packet of black hair dye and a deep red lipstick called “Kiss of Death”.
On Monday morning, I color my lips with the Kiss of Death lipstick and examine my reflection in my bedroom mirror. I think I look pretty good with black hair, though Mum says it washes me out. I’m hoping the red lipstick doesn’t get any stink eye from teachers like Mrs. Clearwater, who are overzealous when it comes to enforcing the school’s dress code. Sixth form girls are allowed to wear make-up, but it has to be “workplace appropriate” make-up. No glitter, no goth stuff, no crazy color combinations. It doesn’t make sense to me. Supposedly they’re getting us used to workplace dress codes, but what if we end up working as children’s entertainers or bar staff in a goth nightclub?
I feel different. I feel like a snake that’s shed its skin – all new and shiny and venomous.
Cora Ruskin is a part-time MSc student of Science Communication, and works for a charity that helps victims of crime. Writing gets squeezed in between the two. She lives in Bristol, England, with five housemates and a very messy kitchen. “Other People’s Butterflies” is her debut novel.