The Butterfly's Daughter

The Butterfly's Daughter

The next lyrical, beautifully wrought novel from Southern fiction New York Times bestseller Mary Alice Monroe.

 Each fall, millions of delicate, orange and black butterflies journey more than 2,000 miles from the United States and Canada to overwinter in the mountains of Mexico. The annual migration of the monarch is a phenomenal story—a miracle of instinct and survival. In The Butterfly’s Daughter, four very different women embark on a transformational voyage of self-discovery that follows the monarchs’ journey from the upper Midwest through Texas to Mexico.

When Luz Avila’s grandmother, the local butterfly lady, unexpectedly dies, Luz is compelled to carry her ashes home to her mountain village in Mexico. Inspired by the Aztec myth of the goddess who brings light to the world, Luz attracts a collection of women, each seeking change in her life. Yet no one’s life changes more than Luz’s when she meets her long-lost mother, a woman she had believed dead.

Their mishaps, trials, and joys are met with humor and compassion, culminating in their triumphant arrival in Mexico on the Day of the Dead celebration. The Mexican people believe the monarchs are the spirits of the recently departed, and a resplendent Luz feels the magic as she brings her grandmother’s ashes home—just as millions of monarchs flutter through the village on their way to the sanctuary.

Rich with keen insight and filled with lush imagery, The Butterfly’s Daughter is a heartwarming and unforgettable tale of mothers, daughters, and friends.
  • Gallery Books | 
  • 400 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439171028 | 
  • May 2011
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How Migration and Metamorphosis Inspire Mary Alice Monroe

Author Mary Alice Monroe follows two journeys in THE BUTTERFLY'S DAUGHTER: the cross-generational trek of the monarchs and that of a granddaughter, both on the road to Mexico.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Butterfly's Daughter includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


In The Butterfly’s Daughter, four women embark on a journey of self-discovery that follows the monarch butterflies’ migration to Mexico. The story begins when Luz Avila’s grandmother, the local butterfly lady, purchases an old VW bug for a road trip back home to Mexico. When she unexpectedly dies, Luz is inspired to take her Abuela’s ashes home. Following her grandmother’s beloved butterflies, Luz meets a collection of women—each on a journey of her own. But nothing can prepare Luz for what she finds along the way.

Rich with lyrical detail and insight, The Butterfly’s Daughter embraces the notion that life is more about the journey, rather than the destination.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. The author writes, “The annual migration of the monarch is a phenomenal story—a miracle of instinct and survival.” (p. 9) Do you think this quote also applies to Luz and her friends’ journey? Where else in The Butterfly’s Daughter are the see more

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About the Author

Mary Alice Monroe
Photo credit: Barbara J. Bergwerf

Mary Alice Monroe

Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including The Summer Girls, The Summer WindThe Summer’s End,Last Light Over CarolinaTime Is a RiverSweetgrassSkywardThe Beach House, Beach House Memories, Swimming Lessons, The Four Seasons, and The Book Club. Her books have received numerous awards, including the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, the 2014 South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence, the 2015 SW Florida Author of Distinction Award, the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, and the International Book Award for Green Fiction. An active conservationist, she lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina. Visit her at and at