"The Knife and the Butterfly" by Ashley Hope Pérez is a story about a young man, Azael, whose life has been anything but easy.
Since his mother died after giving birth and his father began drinking heavily, Azael and his brother, Eddie, have struggled to raise their baby sister. When their father begins to exhibit violent tendencies toward that little girl, they know that she'd be safer with their grandmother in California -- far from their Texas slum.
Although they miss Regina, they know she's happy and growing up in a healthy environment -- far from the gangs, violence and drugs in their lives. And, as desperate as their lives get, they love knowing that Regina is having birthday parties with loving relatives far away.
The story is told in first person narrative with alternating chapters labeled "then" and "now." "Then" is the horrid tale of growing up in squalor. The true sadness, though, is that the squalor didn't matter when Azael's mother was alive to shower her children with love. The "now" is Azael's life in the strange place where everything is just a little "off."
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