About the book
Jen Beagin’s brilliant, off-beat and deeply moving novel introduces an unforgettable character, Mona – almost twenty-four, emotionally adrift and cleaning houses to get by. Volunteering for a needle-exchange programme, she falls for a recipient she calls Mr Disgusting, who proceeds to break her heart in unimaginable ways.
In search of healing, Mona decamps to Taos, New Mexico, for a fresh start, where she finds a community of seekers and cast-offs, all of whom have one or two things to teach her – the pyjama-wearing, blissed-out New Agers, the slightly creepy client with peculiar tastes in controlled substances, the psychic who might really be psychic. But always lurking just beneath the surface are her memories of growing up in a chaotic, destructive family from which she’s trying to disentangle herself, and the crushing legacy of the past she left behind.
The story of Mona’s journey to find her place in the world is at once fearless and wonderfully strange, true to life and boldly human, and introduces a stunning, one-of-a-kind new voice in American fiction.
Published by OneWorld Publications
Publication Date – 5th July 2018
Amazon UK £12.99
Book Depository £10.38
I found this to be a unique and cleverly written book about a young woman who is clearly struggling with finding meaning in her life, and begins to learn lots about herself and the world around her from the weirdly wonderful characters she meets along the way!
Mona is 24 and works as a cleaner. She is a dreamer, and will happily spend the time cleaning fantasizing about the lives of the people whose homes she is in, along with occasionally taking a sneaky peek at their belongings! She also volunteers at a needle exchange so meets a wide variety of people there – and ‘Mr Disgusting’ as she calls him is one such person she feels a connection to although she doesn’t know why. He is a very powerful character and Mona finds herself becoming willingly trapped in his world despite knowing the things she was doing wasn’t good for her.
When things don’t work out with him – thankfully – she finds herself in a new town with very different people around her and they take her under her wing and try and show her there is more to life than the ‘existing’ path she finds herself on. It’s a chance for a new start but isn’t sure how to let go of past behaviours!
Mona is such a fascinating character. She is awkward and emotionally adrift but isn’t backward in coming forward and given the start she had in life, you do understand why she has gone through life not connecting or feeling part of things. This is her discovery and it also gives you as a reader a way of looking at things from different perspectives. And how can you not love a character whose favourite pastime is vacuuming and has a collection of favourite vacuum cleaners that she even names!
I loved the quirky humour throughout – often crude but very funny! It was one of those books that I wasn’t expecting too much from but it surprised me with how much I wanted Mona to find her happy ending – whatever that may be – and how the new experiences she went on helped her grow and move on.
My thanks to the publisher for the copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.