The Butterfly Garden

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The Butterfly Garden: Surviving Childhood on the Run with One of America's Most Wanted (book)
The Butterfly Garden.ti.tif
Author Chip St. Clair
Country United States
Language English
Genre Memoir
Publisher HCI
Publication date
Media type Print
Pages 304
ISBN 0-7573-0695-0

The Butterfly Garden is a 2008 memoir by Chip St. Clair. The book is an autobiographical memoir that is told in the first person by St. Clair and is framed in such a way that as his adult character is revealing testimony to members of a parole board at a hearing for his father, he is in fact recalling the childhood memories that provide the premise of the main story.

Due to the inspirational message as well as the compelling true crime aspect, the memoir has reached a broader than expected audience of readers, having been incorporated into the curriculum of high schools, universities, rehabilitation and juvenile detention facilities across the country, in addition to becoming a cornerstone in training for law enforcement, prosecutors, and DHS in several states. The Butterfly Garden has been translated into Lithuanian, and is available in both audio and electronic formats. Film rights had been optioned for a year and a half, yet lack of notable progress resulted in the rights being reverted to the author. His agent is currently shopping the film rights.

Opening words[edit]

The first sentence of the book appears on page xi by St. Clair: There is for all of us a profound moment of truth that lies in wait – a moment that transfixes our attention and forces us to confront the essential questions in life: Who am I? What is my purpose?


The dedication in the beginning of the book is to his wife Lisa, which readers will find to be a fitting tribute as they read the book. Though the author attributes literature and faith as what helped him survive, it was ultimately her love and support that guided him through the darkest periods of his life. "This book is dedicated to my friend, my love, my wife, Lisa -- a butterfly from the moment I laid my eyes upon her.”[1]


"The Butterfly Garden is a story of pain and despair, but more importantly, of astonishing courage and resiliency. It is a memoir, but also a mystery and a thriller, as Chip St. Clair tells of his tortured childhood at the hands of a sadistic father, a father with a dark and dangerous secret. The Butterfly Garden speaks to age-old themes of tragedy and triumph. But in the end, it is about the healing powers of hope and forgiveness. It is not to be missed." Detroit Free Press[2]

"Chip St. Clair brilliantly exemplifies the courage that remains in a child who has had his entire world destroyed on a regular basis by a perverse father – the same courage that remains as an adult when he decides not only to confront his enslavement, but to bare his soul in this book. His courage makes him a hero, his prose makes him an artist. Chip St. Clair can write. Were it up to me The Butterfly Garden would be required reading in middle schools; perhaps fostering the chutzpah of young people willing to stand up and name their accusers. And demand society’s retribution." David Keith, Actor[3]

"The Butterfly Garden is a work of art that transcends any memoir that I have ever read. This is a work that, once read, will never be forgotten." Marc Klaas, child advocate and founder, KlaasKids Foundation[4]


"The unexamined life is not worth living for man." Plato (469-339 BC) Greek philosopher. Attributed to the character called Socrates in Plato’s dialogue.[5]

"Reality rarely changes; only our perspective of it. The means to change our surroundings depends on our own ability to shift perspectives. "[6]

"I often think of life as a great darkened room with a mammoth-sized tapestry fastened to a stone wall. All we have is the flicker of a candle’s flame to catch glimpses of what the entire picture is to reveal, never quite able to see more than a little at a time. I believe true peace can be achieved not in viewing the whole tapestry, but accepting without bitterness those portions we have been afforded the luxury to see."[7]

"We must be the change we wish to see in the world." M.K. Gandhi[8]

Back Cover[edit]

One of America's Most Fascinating True Crime Cases. Every family has secrets, but Chip St. Clair survived the darkest of family betrayals. As a boy, he never knew what would set his father off—maybe the ice cubes had melted in his glass of Tab, maybe dinner was overcooked or undercooked or the gravy was too runny. Regardless, the beatings always came. As did the twisted games of cat and mouse—being thrown from a rowboat into frigid Lake Michigan, the middle-of-the-night moves to different states, or being left to dangle over a ten-story balcony while his father watched from inside. But one fateful night when the police answered the call, the truth came to light from the shadows, sparking national headlines: Chip St. Clair's entire life—his name, even his date of birth—had been a lie, and the man he called 'Dad' was an impostor, an escaped child killer who had been on the run for over two decades. The stunning revelation would send one of America's Most Wanted to justice and another on a quest for his true identity.

With chilling detail and a riveting, lyrical narrative, The Butterfly Garden reveals St. Clair's struggle to piece together his haunted past before it consumes him and shares his inspiring metamorphosis from victim to victim's advocate. The Butterfly Garden is a timeless triumph, a reminder that hope can be the most powerful of all emotions, freeing us to soar despite the past and the odds against us.[9]


St. Clair to Keynote

Midwest Book Review

BEA Exhibitors


St. Clair, Chip. The Butterfly Garden. HCI, 2008. Print.

  1. ^ St. Clair. Memoirs. 2008. Dedication page.
  2. ^ St. Clair. Memoirs. 2008. Endorsement page.
  3. ^ St. Clair. Memoirs. 2008. Endorsement page.
  4. ^ St. Clair. Memoirs. 2008. Endorsement page.
  5. ^ St. Clair. Memoirs. 2008. p. xi.
  6. ^ St. Clair. Memoirs. 2008. p. 195.
  7. ^ St. Clair. Memoirs. 2008. p. 223.
  8. ^ St. Clair. Memoirs. 2008. p. 238.
  9. ^ St. Clair. Memoirs. 2008. Back cover.

External links[edit]