The Boy with the Butterfly Mind

Victoria Williamson


Quick Look

  • A moving and uplifting story from Victoria Williamson, author of the critically acclaimed The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle
  • An honest and positive depiction of a boy living with ADHD
  • An inspiring story of acceptance, blended families, and discovering that in the end, being yourself is more than enough
  • “Williamson movingly makes it clear that working-class solidarity traverses borders, race, ethnicity, and religion.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle

Jamie just wants to be normal, but his ADHD doesn't make it easy. Elin just wants to be perfect, so that her dad will come back to live with her. When their two families blend, sparks fly. But perhaps there's no such thing as normal after all…

Floris Books
Age Range:
From 10 to 12 years
264 pages
Publication date:
12 Sep 2019


Jamie Lee just wants to be normal but his ADHD isn't making it easy. If only he could control his butterfly mind then he'd have friends, be able to keep out of trouble, live with his mum and not be sent to stay with his dad.

Elin Watts just wants to be perfect. If she could be the best student and daughter possible, then maybe her dad would leave his new family and come back to Glasgow to live with Elin and her mum, happily ever after.

When Jamie and Elin's families blend, the polar opposites of chaotic Jamie and ordered Elin collide. As their lives spiral out of control, Jamie and Elin discover that they're actually more alike than they'd admit. Maybe there's no such thing as normal, or perfect. And perhaps, just like families, happy-ever-afters come in all shapes and sizes.

Uplifting and moving, The Boy with the Butterfly Mind is an inspiring story of acceptance, blended families, and discovering that in the end, being yourself is more than enough.


'An insightful and touching insight into life with ADHD... Knee-jerk assumptions and mis-perceptions are gradually eroded in this rousing tale of friendship and understanding which will have your junior readers cheering on the good guys with gusto and, hopefully, an invigorated compassion.'
-- The Big Issue, Kids Books of the Year 2019

'An honest insight into a boy's life with ADHD, with as much heart as [R.J. Palacio's] 'Wonder'.'
-- Children's Books Ireland Recommended Reads

'Although Elin and Jamie are vastly different, the author deftly shows the trauma of divorce on children… Achingly realistic, yet hopeful.'
-- Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

'A compelling and affecting book about acceptance, openness, mental health and the intricacy of family.'
-- BookTrust

'We like the story because the children are our age and have problems like the ones we have. It's a really nice book because it tells you that you don't have to be perfect or normal, it tells you to be yourself... It has a lesson to teach and sometimes made us feel sad. It tells you that if someone you care about leaves it could change who you are on the inside. We like the book and hope you do too.'
-- Pupils of St Mary's Primary School, for the Dundee Evening Telegraph

'I like this book as it relates to people a lot and it seems like the writer has actually spent the time to go to people with ADHD and get their stories and not just look stuff up about it on the Internet. I love the story that this book tells and the way the author has told it.'
-- Abigail Strachan, Broughton High, for Teen Titles

'This heartbreaking book about the pain of divorce is a must-buy for all elementary libraries. Elin and Jamie's alternating first-person chapters help the reader understand both perspectives. Jamie's perspective is sure to help increase understanding about the difficulty of living with severe ADHD. The plot flows quickly and readers will likely find themselves experiencing strong emotions throughout this powerful novel.'
-- Youth Services Book Review

'This sensitive and affirming novel deals with loss and change in a poignant and yet optimistic way. The complex but positive representation of neurodiversity is an important part of the story, and we love the thoughtful and realistic way Jamie is portrayed.'
-- Seven Stories

'Williamson's character-driven novel presents an honest, introspective portrayal of the adolescent psyche amidst multiple family upheavals, and it is both heartbreaking and hopeful.'
-- Booklist

'The Boy with the Butterfly Mind is an excellent story for any young reader who has ever felt that they are the cause of their family's problems.'
-- Foreword Reviews

'A powerful illustration of how acceptance and understanding can help others to manage the impact of their experiences and medical conditions... A moving and compelling read.'
-- That Boy Can Teach

'A moving and compassionately-told story… Hugely relevant for today's generation, Victoria Williamson writes with a galloping pace packaged at every turn with extraordinary compassion, delivering an enjoyable and empathy-building reading experience… Brilliantly written.'
-- Books for Topics

'The Boy with The Butterfly Mind is not only a great story (I couldn't put it down -- read it in one sitting) but it gives extraordinary insight into the minds of the two protagonists, Jamie and Elin. Suddenly, ADHD was less of a mystery to me and, importantly, the behaviours arising from the condition became completely understandable. Victoria Williamson does an extraordinary job of inviting us inside the heads of her two main characters: scared, damaged, confused eleven-year-olds, telling us a very entertaining story while unravelling the characters' complexities and insecurities and treating us to a stonker of an ending too.
Children's storytelling at its best -- congratulations Victoria.'
--Julia Thum

'The Boy with the Butterfly Mind is an emotional rollercoaster of a read, I can't remember feeling so affected by a story in a really long time… A wonderfully empathetic story […] highlighting the importance of being brave even when others around you refuse to accept people for who they are. Heart-breaking and thoughtful in equal measure.'
-- Booklover Jo

'As the children in this story get to know each other, and the reader gets to know them, we are reminded of how much more everyone is than their classification.
In Jamie, we find someone who is kind, passionate and makes a fantastic peanut butter, jam and whipped-cream sandwich. Beneath Elin's groomed and contained 'class swat' exterior, we meet an anxious child for whom every day is a battle to succeed. It's impossible not root for both children to find their own self-worth, and to come to value each other too.
The Boy with the Butterfly Mind is an enlightening and inspiring story that encourages its readers (whatever their age) to judge less, and to get to know people more.'
-- Roaring Reads

'It is interesting, and somewhat of education, to read the chapters from Jamie's point of view as these give a real insight into what it's like to have ADHD… While this is undoubtedly an important element, Elin's story is equally important. As a character, Elin appears to be very simple but this hides an impressive level of complexity. Outwardly perfect, I especially like the inclusion of the details that hint at her underlying problems…
While much of the book focuses on the growth and development of our two main characters, there's a strong and dramatic climax that succeeded in bringing a tear to my eye. It's also a book with strong themes about friendship and the nature of modern families.'
-- Madge Eekal Reviews

'Hard reading at times but sensitively written. It gave me real insight into the immense frustration felt and difficulties felt by some children with ADHD. This story will take you on a real emotional rollercoaster.'
-- Library Girl & Book Boy

'Elin and Jamie's increasingly destructive behavior ramps up the story's tension and suspense, while their misguided beliefs that they can "fix" their parents' relationships will likely resonate with some readers.'
-- Publishers Weekly

'A great read... Relatable themes of not fitting in, dealing with adversity, self-discovery, and relationships, make this relevant for teens.'
-- Kiss the Book Blog

'A fine addition that may prompt discussion and help build empathy among thoughtful readers.'
-- School Library Journal

'My heart broke and soared by turns in this inspiring story of two kids who seem to have nothing in common but a desperate desire for their family to be whole.'
-- Shari Green, author of ALA Schneider Award-winner Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess

'What a masterclass in empathy. This book gave me such a terrific insight into how ADHD affects a young boy and those around him. It is a great reminder that we shouldn't automatically judge others. I was rooting for Jamie and Elin!'
-- Lisa Thomson, author of The Goldfish Boy

'Moving. Powerful. Relevant. Contemporary storytelling at its very best. Another triumph from Victoria Williamson tackling important issues relevant to kids in a powerful and moving way.'
-- Juliette Forrest, author of Twister

'Truly sensational. Told through two voices & suffused with real heart; empathy & emotionally-invested storytelling at its best that has so much to teach today’s children. My heart genuinely aches. A must, must, must read.'
-- Scott Evans, The Reader Teacher blog

'Fantastic to have a book about ADHD and by such a sensitive writer. So helpful for empathy, understanding and identity. Everyone needs to see themselves in books.'
-- Chloe Daykin, author of Fish Boy

'WOW! I am so impressed with the Williamson novels! The Boy with the Butterfly Mind is a tough read for a mom with 2 boys diagnosed with ADHD… With that said, it is amazing how Victoria Williamson is able to bring you into the head of Jaimie as he struggles through life and then finds relief through medication and support. The family dynamic is real and painful, but the ending is full of hope, empathy and true acceptance. I love how the character's points of view and perspectives are honest; They learn and grow as they realize what they have in common and that nothing is perfect!'
-- Marla Conn,


Victoria Williamson is a primary school teacher with a Master's degree in special needs education. Her first novel, the USBBY-honoured The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle is included in the 2019 Read for Empathy collection and has been longlisted for the Branford Boase Award.

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