Butterfly Tears: Stories of Entrapment to Empowerment
edited by Wil Drouin and Jennifer Thomas



Butterfly Legacy, 2011. ISBN 978-0-983-42180-1.
Reviewed by Shawn LaTorre
Posted on 01/02/2012

Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: Memoir; Anthologies/Collections

A connoisseur of fine literature will not be impressed by the journal entries compiled and presented in Butterfly Tears, edited by Wil Drouin and Jennifer Thomas. But that's not what this book is about. Readers will undoubtably be inspired by the difference one organization is making for individuals struggling with drugs or alcohol within their own community. It's an amazing anthology of pain turned to promise.

Showcasing a unique program in California called Pathways to Independence, Butterfly Tears is a collection of nine women's personal stories. Each story, written in the common voice of women whose lives were transformed by participation in the program, recounts haunting realities of trauma wrought upon the human condition. These realities become diffused and eventually altered by a chain of love, hope, and action galvanized by Pathways to Independence.

The anthology is organized in three sections: Strengthening their Wings (stories of current clients); Outside the Cocoon (success stories of clients who completed the program); and Wind Beneath their Wings (the people behind the organization).

Each story will kickstart a reader's desire to be a part of something so transformative. One woman's story entitled, "Four O'Clock," provides a straight-forward account of repeated abuse unleashed at four o'clock each day upon her father's return from work. She would do anything necessary to be out of the house by four o'clock rather than face being a target of her father's unrelenting rage.

In "The Nightmare after Christmas," a young client reflects, "I really could have used a mother growing up. Every time she disappeared, we felt abandoned by the woman who had given us life..." Unfortunately this abandonment carries with it all the signature ravages of neglect, multiple molestations, drug use, and fights leading to incarceration.

But the reflection entitled "From East LA to Law School" is perhaps one of the most touching. Requesting to join the program, a client is turned down twice. A former gangster, this cookie scared people; she even scared herself. Mr. Bishop tells her to come back upon completion of a community college course. She takes a course and earns an A. Still acting as filter, he suggests she take another course and come back; she does, sporting another A. This butterfly appears ready to begin her emergence; she is accepted. Reading her long story, though, it seems her acceptance by Pathways is a poor decision. Trying to raise a child on her own, with a history of poor performance in school, the odds don't favor her. But as she becomes more self aware through the required counseling, she advocates on her own behalf at a law school, asking to be admitted on a part time basis only. The pace is right and she launches! A reader will begin to note these young ladies pumping their wings as their stories progress.

Butterfly Tears presents a plea for more programs and for funding. In spite of some editing issues that should have been cleaned up, the book is still an inspiring promotional piece to set out on the tables of corporations and foundations on the lookout for worthy causes to contribute to. The work that Pathways does can be researched on the organization's website.

Read an excerpt from this book.


Dave Bishop is founder of Pathways to Independence, a 501(c)(3) corporation. With the help of Wil Drouin and Jennifer Thomas, he has collected the writings of nine clients of Pathways. Their testimonials ascribe to the positive work of this foundation in changing the lives of young women whose lives seem hopeless. The hope is that more people will be inspired to create or get involved in these types of self help programs within their own communities.

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