Here is the summary of the book:
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.
They don't make it like this anymore. The Butterfly Clues is not your average young adult contemporary story but its new, its fresh and its different. You don't get the perfect characters, somewhere something is flawed, in a major way. Which not only adds a many layers to the character but also brings it close to reality.
We have a solid plot, a not so perfect heroine and a pretty much convoluted murder mystery. The protagonist Penelope 'Lo' Marine is a unique character. Afflicted with OCD and other problems that hindered her personally somewhat, but really added to her layers threefold to her character. She had to perform rituals that are usual with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, like having to say names threefold or tapping her feet in a numerical order or repeat things over and over. Most of all she is not a goody two shoes - she lies, she steals....a lot but most of all what she represents is a flawed and a troubled character, which makes reading about her pretty refreshing. But then she dresses as a stripper, to uncover the mystery behind her brother Oren and this girl Sapphire's mysterious deaths (because she wants to right some wrongs of her life)....this part of the story is pretty difficult to explain without you all reading it and I don't want to spoil it for you all.
Anyways Lo is a lonely character, she steals because they provide her with some emotional connection to all that she lacks. On top of it all she doesn't have a good home environment, her mother is always sick and her father is never home. So it is somewhat understandable that Lo always looks to explore new places and try and steer clear of the place that somewhat suffocates her.
Flynt on the other other hand was her opposite, a very laid back guy, who seems to be the epitome of maturity with only Lo. The pair were a great match because of their character and the chemistry and romance they shared. Also Ms. Ellison did not put in the overly dramatic angst but instead had a very nice and organic, yet still angst-y romance and not some tacky love story.
The story is pretty straight forward and paces very nicely. The writing is emotional and realistic and very strong and pretty serious. Ms. Ellison starts it all with an intriguing beginning, a powerful context and ends it pretty well with a satisfying conclusion which sneaks up over you and takes you in. While the context was pretty heavy, the book was an easy read and every other simple hints and clues that were rather very simple were incorporated and penned in such a way that they provided a level of mystery to the tale. Every page full of twists and turns, the author weaves a spellbinding tale of Penelope "Lo" Marin and the multiple mysteries surrounding her melancholy existence.
"Simple yet different but haunting"