What you read
What I read over the summer of 2019 was a fiction novel called ‘The Butterfly Garden’. It was a story following a protagonist named Maya, who happens to be kidnapped by a man who calls himself the Gardener. Essentially, he kidnaps young women and keeps them all in an isolated location, and tattoos large butterflies on their backs, hence the women are the butterflies of his ‘garden’. The book follows her journey of entering this garden and eventually leading to her rescue near the end of the book.
Personal Response (Opinion, takeaway, reaction, inspired or shocked by?, gave me a different perspective?)
Honestly, the contents of the book shocked me at multiple points, especially the narrative of the Gardener’s son. Essentially, the son is in fact the book’s antagonist, and not the Gardener as the women inside the Garden preferred his company, felt safe when he was around as he wouldn’t hurt them, and also because he would stop his son from abusing them. Therefore, this story gave me somewhat of a different perspective regarding stockholm syndrome. I now realise that perhaps there are different stages of this condition, and it’s not simply a case of love. While Maya knew she wanted to escape, and knew she would eventually be killed by her captor, at times when in the Gardener’s company she did feel a sort of comfort.
Literary and Non-Literary features (What made it so? How did they use font and layout? What was the way it was written and how did that impact my response?)
The narrative voice used in this book was first person, and very informal, as though she was recounting her experiences in a journal of sorts, years after her eventual escape. This informal tone that was used allowed for a more friendly and empathetic connection to be formed with the reader and Maya. I feel as though if it was written with a more formal approach, the same empathy could not have been built, instead a dull form of sympathy would take its place. Because of the way it was written, it reflected Maya’s lack of familial love and bonds, which is what caused her to find some comfort in the Gardener. While the story may not be based on true events, it is still very much possible to face horrific circumstances such as this one if one is not careful. The raw and informal narrative voice allowed the reader to understand the raw truth of society, and that there are people similar to that of the Gardener and his son (perhaps not to that extent), who cause unimaginable harm to others.
Concept : What was the connection you can make from your personal response with other writings?
As mentioned above, regarding the idea that this book can give some insight into potential and very real consequences or circumstances that people can find themselves in. It is a regular occurring tragedy in the world, where young boys or girls are kidnapped and held as captives against their will – which is constantly reported in news articles, blogs, or any method of writing that reaches out to a wide range of audience. Therefore, this book almost serves as a warning to young boys and girls of the dangerous people that inhabit the world.