The Agony of Bun O'Keefe

The Agony of Bun O'Keefe

Book - 2017
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It's Newfoundland, 1986. Fourteen-year-old Bun O'Keefe has lived a solitary life in an unsafe, unsanitary house. Her mother is a compulsive hoarder, and Bun has had little contact with the outside world. What she's learned about life comes from the random books and old VHS tapes that she finds in the boxes and bags her mother brings home. Bun and her mother rarely talk, so when Bun's mother tells Bun to leave one day, she does. Hitchhiking out of town, Bun ends up on the streets of St. John's, Newfoundland. Fortunately, the first person she meets is Busker Boy, a street musician who senses her naivety and takes her in. Together they live in a house with an eclectic cast of characters: Chef, a hotel dishwasher with culinary dreams; Cher, a drag queen with a tragic past; Big Eyes, a Catholic school girl desperately trying to reinvent herself; and The Landlord, a man who Bun is told to avoid at all cost. Through her experiences with her new roommates, and their sometimes tragic revelations, Bun learns that the world extends beyond the walls of her mother's house and discovers the joy of being part of a new family--a family of friends who care.
Publisher: [Toronto] : Penguin Teen Canada, 2017
ISBN: 9780143198659
Characteristics: 216 pages ; 22 cm


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Jun 20, 2018

As I kept reading this book, I learned to fall in love with the main character, Bun O’Keefe really quickly. She is much different than the average fourteen year old, mainly because she spent her life poking through the things her mother, who has a hoarding problem, brings home. Not going to school since she was a little girl and growing up with little memories of her father makes things hard for Bun. With little interaction with the outside world and taking things a little too literally, when her mother tells her to “go on, get out,” she does. She then meets a group of people and builds a relationship with each one of them, my favourite being Chef. Bun doesn’t ever refer to each of them with their first name, only the first thing that she thinks describes them, such as their occupation. Following Bun and the events which occur leaves me thinking of much Bun has changed since the beginning. I thought this book was slow but things are revealed unexpectedly and it still has me questioning everything that’s going to happen. I like how the characters would do anything to keep Bun safe from danger. 2/5 - @booklover327 of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library


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Dec 28, 2017

When her mother tells her to, "Get out!" 14 year-old Newfoundlander Bun O'Keefe squeezes through the piles of trash bags and hoarded junk and leaves the family home, arriving in St. John's in November with no coat. Seeming to be without funds, common sense, street smarts, or social skills, she is scooped up by a busking young guitar player and taken home to a run-down building occupied by a family of outcasts: a drag queen former medical student, a Catholic school girl with guilt and secrets, a First Nations young man with a debt to repay, and a dishwasher with dreams of becoming a chef but currently a student at the culinary school. The attic-dwelling landlord is creepy and Bun is warned to steer clear of him. As the weeks go by, readers learn more about each of the characters. Bun finds friendship and acceptance in this loving family who nurture her in many ways. Readers cheer not only Bun, but her friends too, who are all struggling to find acceptance and a place to live their real lives. At the end there is hope for better things in 1987.


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