Juno Loves Legs

Catapult. Apr. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9781646221134. $27. F
A coming-of-age tale set in 1980s Dublin, Geary’s second novel (following his debut, Montpelier Parade) revolves around two outcasts (the titular Juno and Legs) who form a friendship of necessity at their Catholic school, where they suffer abuse from both their fellow students and the parochial leaders. The narrative is first-person from Juno’s perspective as she navigates adolescence and extreme poverty, often completely alone, often experiencing severe trauma. Besides class, religion, and companionship, queerness is a theme explored toward the end of the text, but it’s only alluded to so vaguely beforehand that it almost feels like an afterthought. Geary uses dialect in a way that immerses readers in the Irish setting without being distracting or overwhelming, and the characters are three-dimensional and sympathetic as they struggle to overcome the cruel circumstances of their lives. The novel is straightforward and clearly divides Juno’s life into distinct periods. It is not plot-driven, however, instead using a “slice-of-life” approach to more thoroughly examine the characters.
VERDICT Might appeal to readers who enjoy bleak, atmospheric, character-driven novels, and would be an appropriate addition to any fiction collection.
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