Blurb (from Goodreads):
Penelope (Lo) Marin has always loved to collect beautiful things. Her dad’s consulting job means she’s grown up moving from one rundown city to the next, and she’s learned to cope by collecting (sometimes even stealing) quirky trinkets and souvenirs in each new place—possessions that allow her to feel at least some semblance of home.
But in the year since her brother Oren’s death, Lo’s hoarding has blossomed into a full-blown, potentially dangerous obsession. She discovers a beautiful, antique butterfly pendant during a routine scour at a weekend flea market, and recognizes it as having been stolen from the home of a recently murdered girl known only as “Sapphire”—a girl just a few years older than Lo. As usual when Lo begins to obsess over something, she can’t get the murder out of her mind.
As she attempts to piece together the mysterious “butterfly clues,” with the unlikely help of a street artist named Flynt, Lo quickly finds herself caught up in a seedy, violent underworld much closer to home than she ever imagined—a world, she’ll ultimately discover, that could hold the key to her brother’s tragic death.
The Butterfly Clues is a young adult mystery that is complicated by the main character’s obsessive-compulsive disorder. Although Lo’s OCD hinders her ability to gather clues, it also is the force that compels her to keep going and not let up on the investigation, even when it’s clear that it isn’t safe for her to continue.
We learn a lot about Lo through her ticks and rituals. She steals and hoards items that call out to her, each having a special meaning. Among these is the butterfly pendant that makes Lo feel a kinship with the murdered girl it used to belong to. Her OCD has only gotten worse after the death of her brother, so she does quirky things to keep herself tethered. While it was fascinating and enlightening to see what Lo does to survive, and how these actions actually hurt and hinder her in life, it also gave me mixed reactions while reading. On one hand, the tapping and saying “banana” lends a rhythm to the story; on the other hand, it got a bit tedious after a while.
There were some twists and turns in the mystery, and I wanted to keep reading to see where the story went. Overall, though, I was reading because of Lo’s character. She puts herself out there to try to solve the murder, even going as far as applying at the same strip club where the murder victim used to dance. Lo is very innocent and inexperienced in life, so this made me cringe, but it was also keeping with the character.
I’d recommend The Butterfly Clues to those who enjoy a light thriller mystery, or are curious about people with OCD.