I was lucky enough to be the copy editor of this 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.
Working with Nancy, Ahlam and Archna, the publisher, I realised it was a book I cared so much about that I’ve started freelancing as a part-time publicist for Neem Tree Press, helping them to bring this lovely book into the hands of students, teachers, librarians and YA lit reviewers. Please do get in touch if you review children’s books and would like a review copy.
Code Name: 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.’
‘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.’
‘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)