cover image The Queen of Junk Island

The Queen of Junk Island

Alexandra Mae Jones. Annick, $18.95 (400p) ISBN 978-1-7732-1635-5

Jones’s haunting debut, set in mid-2000s Ontario, unapologetically tackles biphobia, generational trauma, misogyny, and slut-shaming. Sixteen-year-old Dell is running from a lot of things, including unresolved trauma from a sexual harassment incident, a stormy relationship with her mother, and her own pervasive thoughts that she’s “messed up” for masturbating. When her mother receives word that their tenant, who had been renting their lakeside cottage, has been illegally dumping trash in the lake, the duo decide to spend their summer clearing out the detritus. What Dell assumed would be a quiet, if laborious, getaway is invaded by Dell’s mother’s boyfriend and his 17-year-old daughter Ivy, whom Dell is simultaneously infuriated and captivated by. The cottage clean-out also uncovers secrets about Dell’s mother’s past and Dell, plagued by strange apparitions of her late aunt, must navigate her burgeoning sexuality while confronting potentially uncomfortable truths about her family history. Through Dell’s tumultuous mental health and equally turbulent relationships, this intensely personal and moving narrative adeptly captures the often nerve-wracking complexity of queer adolescence. A contextualizing author’s note concludes. Dell is white; Ivy is of an unspecified Indigenous descent. Ages 16–up. (May)