Publisher: Razorbill Canada
Publication Date: September 5th 2017
5 OUT OF 5 STARS
Disclaimer: A free copy of this book was received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
It’s 1986, Bun is fourteen and has lived almost her entire life in a house filled with junk. When her hoarder mother tells her to “Go on, get out,” she does. With no money and nowhere to go Bun is taken in by a ragtag group of twenty-somethings. Maybe she can finally learn how to be a real person.
As a Canadian blogger I cherish any book set in Canada, and I have plenty of trouble finding ones I enjoy. The Agony of Bun O’Keefe is brilliant. Smith has a unique style, Bun is quirky, interesting and real. The character cast has depth and, despite several not having real names, are incredibly easy to connect with.Smith has an uncanny ability to write the world through an underdeveloped child’s eyes.
Although it’s a short read, and I would have loved to read it much longer, the plot is fascinating. Bun deals with love, loss, numbness all while finding herself. Her coping methods of spouting off interesting facts and quoting a specific documentary about drunks in Montreal are weird but also charming.
Smith deals with heavy subject matter like abuse, AIDs, and prostitution in a clear and clean way. It never delves into anything that would be too inappropriate for younger children. Smith explains the topics but never glamorizes them. Perhaps most importantly the author briefly touches on the epidemic of missing native women in Canada. The ultimate message is about real family and choosing your family. It’s sad and heartwarming all at once.
This is a book that will fascinate teens, and still hold interest for adult readers. Smith has written her young adults like young adults and her children like children, something that many authors don’t quite manage. I wanted more of Bun, Big Eyes, Chris and Cher, and Busker Boy. The relationships between the characters felt real. I miss them already.
The Agony of Bun O’Keefe is a fresh and fascinating story, and I highly recommend it.