I started and finished The Agony of Bun O’Keefe by Heather Smith ($21.99, Penguin Teen Canada) in one afternoon.

Set in Newfoundland in 1986, Bun O’Keefe, who learned about life through VHS tapes her mother, a compulsive hoarder, brings home heads to the streets of St. John’s after being told to get out. Luckily for Bun, she immediately runs into Busker Boy, a street musician who immediately understands her naivety and takes her. We then meet a host of equally wonderful and kind people including “Chef, a hotel dishwasher with culinary dreams; “Cher, a drag queen with a tragic past; Big Eyes, a Catholic school girl desperately trying to reinvent herself; and The Landlord, a man whom Bun is told to avoid at all cost.”

The fact that Bun survived her life with her mother who didn’t provide food, rarely talked to her and was a horrible human being was a miracle itself; the fact Bun turned into such an amazing kind and amazing person shows her true character.

What each of these young people have had to go through – and still go through as the book evolves, including racism and homophobia – is awful and I wish more people had the intelligence of Bun when she discusses being different with Cher.

“’No, my darling, what I mean is, they (people) think we’re different, like strange alien beings’.”

“’And being different is enough not to like someone?’”

“’Sadly, yes.’”

“If strange alien beings did exist, they might have something to each us humans. But then we’d never know, would we? Not if people didn’t bother to get to know them.”

A copy of this book was provided by Penguin Random House for an honest review. The Opinions are my own.

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