Title: The Agony of Bun O'Keefe
Author: Heather Smith
Genre: Literary fiction, Canadian
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
This book is gut wrenching. I'm hesitant to tell anyone to read it because it's about such awful things. Certainly there are moments of love in it; that come from the awful things but that only makes the emotion of it harder to take.
Heather Smith has done what few writers can do to me. She's written a story that is about tragic circumstances and instead of making me annoyed, that she was tugging on heart strings, I was completely enthralled and absolutely crushed by the sadness of it all. The Agony of Bun O'Keefe is not for the faint of heart.
Between hoarding, abandonment, molestation, abuse, extreme prejudice and racism there is barely a chance to breathe in between moments. Thank goodness this is only 123 pages. I don't think I could have taken anymore of it.
And yet the characters, especially Bun (who the story is told through) are vibrant, real people. Smith puts so much energy (good or bad), character, emotion and realism into this short novel it's nothing short of a literary masterpiece. And yet I wouldn't want to read it again because I can only take so much heartache. Considering I rarely cry at books and usually scoff at those written to intentionally make you cry (I hated The Fault in our Stars); it's clear to me that Smith has written something special. And while you share the agony of Bun, Busker Boy, Chef, Big Eyes and others in this book you'll also share in their moments of true love and I suppose that is the whole point. Experiencing the world means sharing equally in both the unbearable pain and overwhelming love.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.