Book Reviews and Praise

Broken Butterfly is a story of sadness, courage and survival, but far removed from the usual mother-daughter-illness story. There are moments of joy and insight when Karin Finell experiences Kenya through the eyes of her daughter. The roar of a lion at night, being part of an endless land and sky, elephants surrounding the rental car, all help Stephanie grow more than therapies or special schools could. In Kenya, and other exotic countries, we meet a young child-woman who is developing indeed , into a Butterfly.

– Barnaby Conrad, author of Matador and 38 other books


Lyric as a fine poem, vivid as a painting, Broken Butterfly by Karin Finell is a story of hope and love. It is also a gift to those of us who have a loved one with traumatic brain injury. Brava, Karin!

– Gayle Lynds, New York Times best-selling author of The Book of Spies


Broken Butterfly is a sad but ultimately uplifting story of a child, severely brain damaged by a mosquito-caused encephalitis at age seven, and a dedicated mother who cares for her through the turmoil of their lives. By recounting their lives together, Karin Finell has written, in unflinching poetic language, a pertinent and loving memoir that gives her daughter’s life meaning.

– Spencer Nadler, M.D., author of The Language Of Cells – A Doctor And His Patients, Random House/Vintage


Good luck! Can’t wait to read a broken winged butterfly’s lessons on love, there’s something to the interplay between winged, broken, flight, lift/lifted, love, lessons … again, good luck!

Tracy Seretean, Oscar winner for short documentary, Big Mama, 2001.


A tender story, heartbreaking but generous

Ramona Ausubel, author of No One Is Here Except All of Us – a novel


Prepare to have your heart broken – and mended – with this beautiful true story you will never forget.

Laird Koenig, author of The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane


My experience of working with Stephanie Finell was one of the most dramatic in my life of how poetry can help the troubled heart. She was a gift to me. A jewel who came from above, for such a little time, and then went back to the angels. Now Stephanie will again live in more hearts than those of us lucky to have known her sweetness and depth.

Perie Longo, Ph.D., Past President of the National Association for Poetry Therapy, Santa Barbara, CA, Poet Laureate Emerita, author of With Nothing behind but Sky: A Journey Through Grief


Book Reviews of Broken Butterfly from Amazon:

This is an excellent reading for parents and professionals that work with children with special needs. The implications of a disability on family dynamics, but also the deep understanding of the needs of young adults with disabilities are worth reading this book. As a professional, the descriptions of encounters with health professionals and the impact we have (positive and negative) on the lives of our patients was very enlightening. Highly recommended for students and learners as additional reading!

– Doc


What a beautiful love story. Read it straight through, couldn’t put it down. Every woman who has ever loved a child will find this a must read. I felt spiritualoly uplifted after following Karen’s story of desparation, disappointments and victories. She takes the reader with her every step of this painful yet rewarding journey. Now I understand why parents with challenged children say they have been blessed.

– s. moore


I bought this book because I had loved Karin Finell’s previous one, about her life in Berlin; Good-Bye to the Mermaids, A Childhood Lost in Hitler’s Berlin. Broken Butterfly was a page-turner, couldn’t put it down! I didn’t really expect that, from the title…one of my favorite reads! Her writing is beautifully descriptive and painterly. If you are looking to get lost in a book, this is the one! 5 Stars!

– Casaluna


What could have been a story of loss and heartbreak is instead a a life-affirming story of one young woman’s journey to enlightenment. Karin’s daughter Stephanie did indeed suffer a traumatic brain injury at the age of seven, and it altered the course of her life forever, yet her mother refused to consign her daughter to an institution and set about creating experiences that enabled her daughter to learn more about life than she ever could have learned in a book. The vivid descriptions of trips to exotic locales are so beautifully written that the reader feels transported and is able to see the world through Stephanie’s eyes. Stephanie’s brain injury rendered her childlike, yet that seems to have been a gift. Imagine being seven forever, seeing the world and all its beauty through a child’s eyes. A beautiful testament to a mother’s unconditional love for her child and to the lessons our children can teach us if we let them, this story will stay with you.

– Marianne Dougherty


Karin Finell has found exactly the right words to express clearly and profoundly a mother’s depthless, unselfish love. The book is informative about the issues faced by parents when the promise of a bright future suddenly takes a 180 degree turn. This true story is told with an honesty and frankness that makes the reader become part of the process. A real page turner!

– Cody Cammbell


Karin has a terrible, heart breaking story to tell, but it’s much more. She writes of the joys and moments supreme with her beautiful daughter. I came away inspired and appreciative of my own life. Better yet, the book is readable and not always easy to put down. Her writing kept me going. How I wish I had known Stephanie, too. Wait, now that I’ve read the book, I do!

– Susan, the Book Junkie (Santa Barbara, CA USA)


Broken Butterfly: My Daughter’s Struggle with Brain Injury, by Karin Finell, has many moments of heartbreak and despair, and at the same time it is an inspiring account of the love and joy that can be found even in tragic circumstances.

Beautifully written and deeply honest, it traces the delights to be found in unconditionally loving a special child, as well as the sadness of knowing how much is forever lost.

There is no doubt in the reader’s mind by the end of the book that the author truly understands what a privilege it was to have known and loved her beautifully spirited daughter. This book is a poignant reminder that our beloved children, even those who experience the world differently, have much to teach us.

– Sharon Dirlam “Sharontell”


I would recommend it to any family whose unity has been put to the test due to the illness of one member. There is always a way to renew the vows once taken, forgiveness plays a role here, and the couple should try their best to think about larger issues. The unit of the family as such is of importance and to put love and understanding first and not selfish thoughts of a “new” love and escape into another life.

– Felixa “Kafesialel”