'The Butterfly's Daughter' emotional, fulfilling

Luz Avila is a young and vibrant Latina, raised from a young age by her beloved grandmother Esperanza in Milwaukee. All Luz can remember about her mother is that her name was Mariposa, Spanish for “Butterfly.”

Esperanza is known as the “Butterfly Lady” in their neighborhood. She teaches Luz the traditions and legends surrounding the gorgeous monarch butterflies she raises, including the fact that the monarchs always return to a place near her childhood home in Mexico each year.

The two are planning a cross country road trip through San Antonio to Mexico when Esperanza unexpectedly dies. Luz decides to make the journey anyway and take her abuela’s ashes home. She takes the old, orange Volkswagen bug Abuela had purchased specifically for the trip and heads out, unknowingly following the migration path of the monarch.

During the journey, Luz meets pregnant Ofelia and her Chihuahua, Serena, in Chicago. After Ofelia is abused by her boyfriend, she hitches a ride with Luz to Kansas with the idea of finding her mother.

In Kansas, Luz is joined by Margaret, a middle-age single woman who has always longed to leave her stale, boring life to track the monarchs on their journey. In Oklahoma, Luz and Margaret meet Stacie, a lively, wandering soul who teaches them to embrace the surprises in life.

When Luz finally reaches her Tia Maria’s home in San Antonio, she is shocked to learn her supposedly deceased mother is alive and wants to meet her. As Luz continues the trip with Mariposa along, she learns more about herself, her mother’s past and the extended family she has longed to meet.

“The Butterfly’s Daughter” by Mary Alice Monroe is a beautiful tale of exploration and discovery, yet it turns out to be so much more. Monroe deftly crafts a mesmerizing tale, weaving together the journey of the monarch butterfly with the transformation of a young woman, creating a heartwarming story that is emotional and fulfilling.

Monroe’s character descriptions are realistic and each character has their own flaws, peculiarities and beauty that give them depth and dimension. Each chapter of this story also includes a detail from the life of the monarch butterfly, neatly tying the entire package together with satisfying results.