Juno

Nancy Ashbaugh, Author St. Martin's Press $12.95 (181p) ISBN 978-0-312-44864-6
The dialogue in this first novel is composed mostly of threats. Cruelty, it seems, runs in Juno Armstrong's family, and she has good reason to be a hard-core pessimist. Her father, Leroy, forces Juno's 16-year-old sister, Margaret, to have the child of her rapist; the baby is born a vegetable. Intimidated by his father, Juno's brother becomes a drug addict and attempts suicide. Leroy must have inherited his mean streak from his own father, who tells his wife they're going to church, then dumps her in an old-folks' home so it will be easier for him to have extramarital affairs. By the time Juno leaves Gold City, a desert gambling town close to nuclear testing sites, she is, understandably, against the nuclear arms race and political tyranny, and in favor of abortion and animal rights. At college, she receives a letter from Margaret: her father is running for senator and the rapist is attending the rallies. Bullwhip in hand, she returns for a final confrontation. The narrative is full of extended analogies that become ensnarled in themselves, and Juno's conclusion that life may be worth living after all is scarcely enough to make this garbled tirade worth reading. (July 28)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
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