Synopses & Reviews
Ali is a lonely teenager living an isolated life with her grandmother on Long Island in the late 1990s. When she visits the local Stop & Shop, Ali finds herself inexplicably and overwhelmingly drawn to a cashier, the seductive but troubled Justine, who is so tall and thin she looks almost two-dimensional as her long fingers flutter over the cash register. "There was something spooky about Justine," Ali says. "Her smile lit me up and exposed me all at once." Ali applies for a job on the spot.
In the weeks that follow, Justine takes Ali under her wing, and Ali's fixation with Justine grows. From Justine, Ali learns a new way to live--how best to bag groceries, what foods to eat (and not to eat), how to shoplift, who to admire, and who she can become outside of her quiet home, where her inattentive grandmother hardly seems to notice the ways that Ali keeps changing. But even as Ali reshapes herself in Justine's image, her inability to more deeply connect with her newfound idol leads to a series of events that will forever change the lives of these two girls on the edge of adulthood.
One of The Rumpus's Most Anticipated Books of 2021
An "LGBTQ Book That Will Change The Literary Landscape in 2021" --O, The Oprah Magazine
"Justine is unsettling, adoring, insightful, and even a little frightening. The best books carry insights that will shake you. That's what happened to me in this piercing novel. It shook me, and it made me see." --Victor LaValle
Summer 1999. Long Island, New York. Bored, restless, and lonely, Ali never expected her life would change as dramatically as it did the day she walked into the local Stop & Shop. But she's never met anyone like Justine, the store's cashier. Justine is so tall and thin she looks almost two-dimensional, and there's a dazzling mischief in her wide smile. "Her smile lit me up and exposed me all at once," Ali admits. "Justine was the light shining on me and the dark shadow it cast, and I wanted to stand there forever in the relief of that contrast."
Ali applies for a job on the spot, securing a place for herself in Justine's glittering vicinity. As Justine takes Ali under her wing, Ali learns how best to bag groceries, what foods to eat (and not to eat), how to shoplift, who to admire, and who she can become outside of her cold home, where her inattentive grandmother hardly notices the changes in her. Ali becomes more and more fixated on Justine, reshaping herself in her new idol's image, leading to a series of events that spiral from superficial to seismic.
Justine, Forsyth Harmon's illustrated debut, is an intimate and unflinching portrait of American girlhood at the edge of adulthood--one in which obsession hastens heartbreak.