“The Agony of Bun O’Keefe” by Heather Smith

OMG guys, I read a book that didn’t have monsters, vampires, or any supernatural themes. Just regular old fiction! 🙂 I would never have heard of this little gem if it weren’t for reading my friend, Schizanthus’s review. I just had to request it from Netgalley!

This short book is just so unique and addictive. Bun O’Keefe is a 14 year old (this is NOT a young adult book) with a 300-pound hoarder mother who tells her one day, “Get out! Just get out!” And so she does.

Luckily, she finds a very kind group of rag-tag friends who teach her about life, love, emotions, and how to function *more* as a social being.

I’m guessing Bun has Asperger’s, but it doesn’t really say. She memorizes details from medical encyclopedias and remembers lines from movies and little obscure tidbits. She is extremely literal and has no inkling of “social cues,” but wow, this girl is so awesome and there are many touching scenes and lines.

This also takes place in the 80s, which is cool!

She doesn’t remember her birthday but when her mother lights a candle on August 16th for Elvis’s birthday, she knows “that’s the day to say, Happy Birthday, Bun O’Keefe.”

She is tiny and malnourished and never menstruated. She lived off sausage in a can, saltines and plastic-wrapped cheese. She thought of Cherry Coke as being a fruit.

“Santa stopped coming when my dad left. I figured it was ’cause my mother turned me invisible.”

No one knew she was alive, she didn’t go to school, and was basically an agoraphobic teen until she finds her tribe.

Cher/Chris – the awesome transvestite whose dad wanted him to be a doctor
Chef – the guy who works as a dishwasher but can cook like a boss
Busker Boy – an Innu Indian with a tender heart who takes Bun under his wing
Pop Girl – the girl whose Catholic-extremist mom wanted her to join a convent so she ran away

This was just great. I highly recommend. It’s a book you can read in a day and will leave you feeling good, even though it’s sad. It’s the kind of quirky, “regular” fiction I LOVE.

There are some abuse triggers, but no major details and it doesn’t go on and on. I lurve Bun so much!

Thank you Netgalley and publisher for providing a digital copy to read and review.


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