My rating: 5 of 5 stars
ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
WARNING: I TEND TO GET QUOTE-Y WHEN I LOVED A BOOK.
I requested this book from Netgally eons ago and finally found a couple days (and a few airplane trips to dive in).
Somehow, I put it off for months because a part of me was certain there would be heartache in this one too and I just wasn’t up for it. Eventually, I managed to overcome my fear of tear-jerkers, and guess what? It wasn’t one. I mean, it WAS emotional. It squeezed my heart and made me hold my breath, but it’s a totally different kind of heart-ache compared to the devastation of “Full Tilt” and “All-In”.
In three words: It. Was. Amazing!!!!!!!!!!!
So let’s start by saying why I love this author so much:
-Her characters are always peculiar. Let’s take Zelda and Beckett as examples. She’s a graphic novelist while he works as a bike messenger. Definitely not usual jobs. The same thing applies to their background stories. I found especially Beckett’s original and perfect to shape such a complex yet endearing character. It explains why he’s always trying to be a good person, to do good. It molded his personality to the amazing man he’s now. He doesn’t think he deserves happiness, but Zelda manages to do the impossible and make him feel like he’s worth more than his mistakes. Like he’s worthy of her love. He’s one of the good guys, gentleman to the core, and a romantic. What’s not to love?
I wanted to listen to the sound of someone else’s breathing beside my own. I wanted to hold a woman and have her body pressed against mine, her arms and legs wrapped around me tight, our bodies shielding each other from the cold. One person alone against winter was rough. But two people, together…
“I can’t tell if you’re being chivalrous or stalkerish.”
“Neither,” he said. “If I wake up tomorrow and read on the blotter that you were mugged on the way back to the hostel, I’ll feel like shit. I’m doing this for me. Not you.”
“Zelda,” he whispered, as if my name was an answer to a question he’d been asking for a long time.
-Original ideas, like “The Graphic Novel”. I loved the parallelism between Zelda and Mother’s situation. As I said, Zelda’s past experience too was quite original and not very often portrayed in books. And I appreciated the conflict that it all created within her own self and with her family. It gave ulterior depth to her character.
No heart. It wasn’t my heart; it was my lungs gasping for air […]. It was my voice screaming for help, someone please fucking help because I couldn’t run fast enough. I’d failed Rosie then, and I’d failed her now. Failed to tell the story. The book was an apology spread out over a hundred black and white pages, colored with tears and inked with regret; everything I didn’t do that day was embedded in the drawings, and my heroine’s rage — her merciless thirst for vengeance — was my only relief.
-The romances. I adore seeing broke people fall in love, because every gesture, every gift, for how minuscule, is worth more than any expensive present from a billionaire. I love the meaningfulness of it. In this case, the romance was a true slow burn comprising of two of my favorite tropes: friends to lovers and room-mates. We see their feelings grow day after day, even though the attraction is palpable since the very beginning.
Their love also held a desperate note, caused by their pasts sorrows and scars. I adored how they helped each other heal, eased the other’s burden.
“[…] Ryder tells Kira that it wasn’t her fault,” he said, his eyes finding mine in the dimness again.
“And he tells her he’s so fucking sorry she has to carry that around with her for the rest of her life. He says he’d take it if he could.”
Beckett lying three feet from me but trapped in a past he couldn’t change. I was too — our pain was of the same fabric, even if the patterns were different, but he was helping me.
-Her writing style. Scott’s writing style is exactly my jam. It never gets boring, it never has me skimming or checking out with my mind. I’m glued to every sentence. I also love the witty banter and flirting between the two characters. These are two must, in my opinion, when it comes to slow burns, and “The Butterfly Project” delivered 100%.
“I’m beat,” Zelda said. “You mind if I wash up and call it a night?” Her expression turned uncertain. “Or are you a night owl? Did you want to stay up and watch some TV?”
“Nah, no TV. Just accordion practice.” She arched a brow. “Didn’t I mention it?” I said. “I play accordion between midnight and four a.m.” I cocked my head in mock concern. “That’s not going to be a problem, is it?”
“Gee, I can’t imagine how,” she said.
“I hope you like polkas.”
-Secondary characters. From kind Roy to complicated Darlene, to Zelda’s Auntie Lucille, each one added something to the narration, another thread to the tapestry. I liked how the issues in the book weren’t just about the main couple, exactly like it in real life.
“You have the most incredible eyes,” she said suddenly, peering at me intently. “Like, huge and gorgeous, and pure green.”
I moved back a little. “Thanks?”
“It hit me while we were talking earlier, and that’s how I know.”
“That you and Becks are going to bone down.”
I felt heat surge to my cheeks and I swatted her arm. “Will you stop saying that?”
She shrugged as if our destiny was out of her hands. “It’s true. Your eyes are spectacular and Beck is a mushy romantic, not matter how standoffish he pretends to be.”
All in all, great book. I was seriously hooked. It was emotional, and yet didn’t skimp on the romance side. It felt real.
“Mmhm. Keep talking. I liked your voice. It’s a searchlight in the dark… so I can always find my way back.”
“Can I ask you a question?”
“You just did,” Zelda said.
“Let me rephrase: can I ask you a question without you getting pissed at me?”
“Impossible to know.” She narrowed her eyes through her glasses. “Why? Are you about to say something stupid only a guy would say?”
She laughed. “You’re so goddamn cute you could get away with it. Go ahead.”
The word was a whisper in my mind. If I were drawing it on the page, if would be written in small letters but contained in a large thought bubble. Eleven tiny letters floating in a sea of white. Like a balloon.
A red balloon and a child’s smile…
The grief began to roar. I felt it coil and gather strength, a hurricane churning in my heart and mind and soul.