Butterflies Dance in the Dark

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9781552634745: Butterflies Dance in the Dark
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Destined for limbo because of her illegitimacy, and labeled retarded” because of a learning disability, young Mari-Jen Delene retreats into silence. Around her revolves a vividly drawn cast of characters: her mother Adele; Misha, a Polish Jew; the willful, bitter Mother Superior; and her powerfully intelligent twin brothers, who sleep beside a map of the world they long to explore. Brilliantly imagined and buoyed by the clear-eyed perceptions of youth, it is an eloquent and profound story from a gifted writer.

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About the Author:

Beatrice MacNeil has written ten plays, four of which have won awards, and two of which have been adapted for Halifax CBC Radio. Her short story collection, The Moonlight Skater, won the 1994 Dartmouth Book Award. Her children’s book, There is a Mouse in the House of Miss Crouse, won the 1996 Marianna Dempster Canadian Author’s Award for Nova Scotia. She is the recipient of the 1999 Tic Butler Award for her outstanding contribution to Cape Breton writing and culture, and is the founder of Cape Breton’s Reading Ceilidhs. Her work has been published in the The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, and has been dramatized on CBC radio. Of Acadian and Scottish descent, MacNeil grew up in Lower L’Ardoise in Cape Breton. She lived in Toronto for an extended period and currently makes her home in Cape Breton. This is her debut novel.

From Publishers Weekly:

MacNeil's novel, a bestseller in her native Canada, begins in 1953 with five-year-old narrator Mari-Jen Delene weathering a storm in the rundown family house on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. A frightened, quiet child haunted by ghosts and inner voices, punished in Catholic school by the Mother Superior, and burdened by her illegitimacy (she and her older twin brothers, Alfred and Albert, are viewed as her mother Adele's mortal sins), begins to withdraw into silence. Her mother is distant and dismissive; her brothers, while smart and supportive, long to escape the restrictions of their small Acadian village. Thrown into the mix are the delusional and crass Aunt Clara, who sees saints through her window, and perpetually drunk Uncle Jule. Mari-Jen exists in a limbo that is painful and ominous as well as affecting. Her savior is a neighbor, Daniel Peter, who helps her to read and sets her on the path to recovery and adulthood. MacNeil's characters are imaginative and well realized, while the novel makes an effortless full circle. (Feb.)
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Beatrice MacNeil
Published by Key Porter Books (2009)
ISBN 10: 1552634744 ISBN 13: 9781552634745
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