The Agony of Bun O’Keefe

The Agony of Bun O’Keefe by Heather Smith

3/5 Stars

This is the story of a fourteen year old girl who runs away from her hoarder mother and is taken in by a group of misfit young adults. It follows her journey as she attempts to adjust to life outside of the small word she has always known.

We follow our young protagonist Bun who has lived her whole life isolated with her abusive mother in a house full of junk. Her only experiences with life outside those walls comes from reading books and video tapes her mother brings home. She eventually runs away from home after an altercation with her mother and one of the first people she meets is a young busker playing the guitar, he takes her home and introduces her to his roommates, a very eclectic  group of young people. We then learn their back stories and what led them to come together. Their stories and adventures almost seemed episodic and I think this led to the story seeming scattered and like it didn’t mesh together very well. I did enjoy the characters, but I think the lack of cohesion kept bumping me out of the story a bit. I also feel like there was just too much going on and that the author tried to tackle way too many heavy subjects to do any of them justice. There was abuse (verbal, sexual, physical), neglect, suicide, prostitution, metal illness, gender identity, racism, self harm, AIDS/HIV, homophobia, there was so much happening that everything was just left unresolved and felt incomplete.

I did enjoy the elements of found family, and that we can find the people we need in our life that will love and support us. There was also some beautiful descriptions and passages of writing. Watching Bun experience life and new experiences was often very sweet and endearing.

Ultimately this was a sweet little book, but I don’t think the author left enough space to fully tackle all the heavy topics that she brought up and would have been better served to select only a few to give them due justice.

A copy of this book was provided to me by Netgally in exchange for an honest review.