Junebug

( 2 )

Overview

"I was raised zero-parent," says hormone-addled 17-year-old Junebug Host, "what the newspapers call it when your mother is in prison and the father was just a sperm."

Junebug has been visiting her mother in Ellisville Reformatory for Women ever since she was five years-old, when beauty queen Theresa Host calmly stepped out of their trailer with an axe and inexplicably bludgeoned a neighbor to death. But during the summer of Junebug’s high school graduation—and the summer of her first wildly passionate affair—with...

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Junebug

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Overview

"I was raised zero-parent," says hormone-addled 17-year-old Junebug Host, "what the newspapers call it when your mother is in prison and the father was just a sperm."

Junebug has been visiting her mother in Ellisville Reformatory for Women ever since she was five years-old, when beauty queen Theresa Host calmly stepped out of their trailer with an axe and inexplicably bludgeoned a neighbor to death. But during the summer of Junebug’s high school graduation—and the summer of her first wildly passionate affair—with a snake-smooth greaser 20 years her senior—Theresa reels in her oversexed daughter, and shatters her world, by suddenly announcing the motive she had kept to herself since the day of the murder: an act of vengeance for a crime in which Junebug was intimately involved. "I did it for you," she tells Junebug, who is thrown into a ferment of memory and guilt.

Set in the outsized landscape of far-western Nebraska, a nebulous region little known in contemporary fiction, and peopled by characters whose extreme individuality is exceeded only by their eccentricity—born again Fundamentalist snake charmers, housewives making ends meet with phone sex 900-number businesses, a 300-pound New Age priestess and the traveling meat salesman who worships her, as well as the all-female inmate population of the Ellisville Reformatory, Junebug is a novel with the intensity of the mother/daughter bond itself, with all its wildness, tragedy and depth.

Maureen McCoy is the author of three previous novels, Diving Blood, Summertime, and Walking After Midnight (Poseiden/Simon & Schuster). She received her MFA from the Writers Workshop, University of Iowa, and is a Professor of English at Cornell. Among her many awards are the James Michener Award, the Wurlitzer Foundation Award, and the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship in the Humanities, chosen by Toni Morrison.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
McCoy's fourth (after Divining Blood, 1992, etc.) strains every literary nerve and muscle to make significant the story of a teenager who finally learns why her mother is in prison for murder. In this literary equivalent of bad fusion cuisine, a messed-up teenager, an unwed mother, a New Age foster mother, an ethnic older boyfriend, and a snake-handler are tossed together by pretentious prose into a Nebraska setting: altogether, a mix of ingredients that creates an indigestible tale. Narrator Junebug Host begins on Mother's Day of her senior year in high school. She's gone to visit Mom, who's incarcerated in nearby Ladylock, the local women's prison. Junebug doesn't have a dad; Tess Host didn't even know she was pregnant when, just graduated from high school, she went out to buy a snack and instead gave birth to a baby. On this particular Mother's Day, Junebug learns for the first time that Tess killed their trailer-park neighbor because she thought he had sexually abused her daughter. When Mom was jailed, Junebug went to live with Gloria, a loving and tolerant caregiver despite her fondness for a variety of spiritual experiences, including snake-handling. After the prison visit, Junebug is picked up by her boyfriend, an older Italian-American who likes to be seen as dangerous though he's really very traditional. Although dressed in a black leather miniskirt, Junebug suddenly has more than sex with Floren on her mind. She's just remembered what really happened that long-ago afternoon when her mother picked up an axe and headed out of their trailer. As our heroine ponders what to do, she drops out of school, starts cutting herself, and watches a lot of TV with Gloria while they sip sherry.Tess, whose character is as unconvincing as the plot premise (no mention of lawyers or a criminal investigation), has some further confessions for poor Junebug, who's finally driven to act-but unconventionally. An unconvincing muddle.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780972898416
  • Publisher: Leapfrog Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2004
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Maureen McCoy is the author of three previous novels, DIVINING BLOOD (1992), SUMMERTIME (1987), and WALKING AFTER MIDNIGHT (1985), all published by Simon & Schuster. She received her MFA from the Writers Workshop, University of Iowa, and is a Professor of English at Cornell. Among her many awards are the James Michener Award, the Wurlitzer Foundation Award and the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship in Humanities, chosen by Toni Morrison.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2005

    Couldn't finish it.

    My wife got this for me becuase of a recommendation from O magazine. I can't give it less than 2 stars because I don't want to read any more of it. Some readers may enjoy it, but I thought the language pretentious and often nonsensical. The story might prove interesting, but there are other books to read. Instead, try THE USUAL RULES, LIKE THE RED PANDA, WHITE OLEANDER, etc.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2004

    A Must Read

    I had to read a book for English class. While searching through aisles and aisles at Barnes and Noble my eye found the title, Junebug. I thought that was very different and unique so I bent down to pick it up. I read the back and immediately wanted to know more. This story is well thoughout and it is written beautifully. I strongly recommend this book to other teenagers or mothers who are trying to find themselves.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

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