This week, we’re taking a closer look at Powell’s Pick of the Month, Juno Loves Legs by Karl Geary.
There’s a moment in Juno Loves Legs
, the new coming-of-age novel from Karl Geary, where our angry, irascible, neglected, twelve-year-old Juno grabs her new friend — Sean, whom she’s nicknamed Legs — and asks him: “Would you like to see where I’m buried?”
Juno and Legs are both young and new to this friendship, but already they sense a kindred spirit: a fellow outsider, someone else who’s already been targeted and slighted by the world, already too aware of the gradations of bruises: “the red and orange that come later, and the light brown after that and then the piss yellow of rotten daffodils. That’s how bruises really are.”
Already they sense a kindred spirit: a fellow outsider, someone else who’s already been targeted and slighted by the world, already too aware of the gradations of bruises
And so, Juno asks Legs: “Would you like to see where I’m buried?” Of course, Legs says yes. And, of course, their friendship becomes one of the most important relationships in each of their lives.
Juno Loves Legs
takes place in 1980s Ireland. The young Juno and Legs are students at a Catholic school, where they have to stand up for each other because no one else will; worse: the Father and Sister at their school have it out for them. When Legs’s anger finally boils over, he’s sent away and Juno is left alone. But neither forget the other — how could they! — and their eventual reunion is both a relief and a doorway to a whole new set of problems.
What really holds the book together, though, is the degree to which both want to take care of the other, even though that care is so often beyond their means.
Both want to take care of the other, even though that care is so often beyond their means.
Well, that and the writing. So many sentences are absolutely delicious: “what a pair, like loose change rattling around in the back of the big car” and “he saw through to my bones, broken as a pink stick of Blackpool rock” and “neighbours washed blue from the sweep of ambulance light, sucking on the commotion like sweets.” (God, that last one! Who gave Geary the right.)
Juno Loves Legs
is sad — that aching, devastating, sweet type of sadness — but it’s also filled with kindness and friendship, pockets of giddiness and that sweet relief found in art and books. And it’s always anchored in that promise between Juno and Legs: when one asks, “Will you stay?” the other always replies (even if it’s a lie), “I will.”