Juno Loves Legs

A Novel

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Book Description

For readers of Sally Rooney and fans of Shuggie Bain and Just Kids, Juno Loves Legs is the epic and heartbreaking story of a young friendship set in working-class Dublin in the 1980s

Juno Loves Legs is the story of two teens labeled as delinquents. Juno and “Legs” grow up on the same housing estate in Dublin, where spirited, intelligent Juno is ostracized for her poverty and Legs is persecuted for his sexuality; they find safety only in each other. 

Set against the backdrop of Dublin in the 1980s, a place of political, social and religious change, the friends yearn for an unbound life and together they begin to fight to take up the space of who they truly are. As their defiance reverberates through their lives, the children are further alienated from their surrounding society through acts of bravery and cowardice, both their own and others’. Finding themselves as outsiders, they are feared, coveted and watched, but rarely truly seen.

Told through the eyes of Juno, we see the pair begin to navigate the political and oftentimes confusing adult world with honesty and intuition. A country emerging from a dark Catholicism into the wider world of possibilities. Who is invited into modernity and gentrification and who is left behind?

Caught between the rich depth of her intellect and the harsh reality of her life, we follow Juno as she begins to understand how divergent a life lived and a life thought can be.

Juno Loves Legs shows the frustration of feeling trapped in a life that is not yours and the ability of friendship to lift us out of our experiences and into a truer version of ourselves. It is a novel that reminds us that kindness, bravery, and love appear in places where they are not always expected and in forms not usually recognised, but with a potency that cannot be ignored.

About the Author

Praise For This Book

Washington Independent Review of Books, A Best Book of the Year
Nylon, A Must-Read of the Month

"The raw, lilting poetry of Juno’s voice provides a series of heartbreaking revelations." —Ron Charles, The Washington Post

"Geary finds beauty in the most unlikely places, and in an often brutal story, with more than its fair share of small tragedies, he offers balm along the way; a reminder that humanity is everywhere, if we take the time to look, and a clear demonstration that family is less about genetics and more about love." —Joanna Cannon, The Guardian

"Karl Geary’s sophomore novel flirts with and then darkly subverts the marriage plot, killing off the nuclear family in an attempt to remake it, with a difference." —Annabel Barry, Chicago Review of Books

"Mesmerizing . . . [A] defiant second novel." —Eric Olson, The Adroit Journal

"Juno Loves Legs is a gorgeous, devastating ode to the sustaining power of friendship, as well as exquisitely atmospheric portrait of a city. A great Dublin novel. A great novel, period." —Dan Sheehan, Literary Hub, A Most Anticipated Book of the Year

"If you are in the mood for a novel that will rip your heart out and slap you repeatedly in the face with it, have I got a recommendation for you . . . [A] beautiful tale of survival and how friendship can be a salvation." —Liberty Hardy, Book Riot

"Shuggie Bain vibes abound in this tenderhearted tale." —Michelle Hart, An Electric Literature Most Anticipated Book of 2023

"Juno Loves Legs is tender and heartbreaking. Young friendship takes on all the world's challenges—love, art, family, the simple and overwhelming task of survival—with tragic, poignant results. Readers will find Juno's bravado and Legs's persistent sweetness unforgettable." —Shelf Awareness

"Juno's combination of vulnerability and hard edges lends her a tender toughness that makes it impossible to turn away. Geary's writing is wonderfully revealing and beautiful, particularly when describing characters' clothing, which is often used to show or hide their emotions. Altogether achingly memorable." —Booklist (starred review)

"Heartbreaking . . . Geary often finds poetry in Juno’s plainspoken narration, whether in lucid reflections on the brutality at the school or in Juno’s openhearted wonder at Dublin . . . The blistering dialogue, too, captures the characters’ hard-won wisdom . . . This is one to savor." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Geary uses gorgeous prose, full of Irish lilt and hard-edged slang, to describe bleak childhoods as harsh as any found in a Dickens novel . . . Poignant . . . Evocative." —Kirkus Reviews

"An unforgettable portrait of two young misfits bound together by hard Dublin childhoods. It's an ode to love, to the salvation of friendship, and to the families we build when our own families fail us. Filled with loss and longing, it is by turns brutal and tender, and in the end, utterly devastating. The characters are so real, so desperate to be loved, that the reader will want to reach through the pages and hold them. The effect is extraordinary. Juno Loves Legs broke my heart. I never wanted it to end." —Douglas Stuart, author of Young Mungo and Shuggie Bain

"The characters are three-dimensional and sympathetic as they struggle to overcome the cruel circumstances of their lives . . . Atmospheric." —Library Journal

"An original and exquisitely tender story of two misfits who find love in an often callous and indifferent world, Juno Loves Legs will haunt you long after you have read it. In gorgeous, effortless prose, Karl Geary bears witness to those who, like his protagonists, are invisible and voiceless. By boldly confronting the darkness, this novel finds the light." —Gabriel Byrne, author of Walking with Ghosts

"A tender, wrenching portrait of two young outsiders searching for sanctuary in the bruised hearts of one another. Geary’s exquisitely rendered Dublin is at times a bleak place, but that darkness is defiantly illuminated by the humor and humanity of his unforgettable protagonist. You will ache for Juno." —Dan Sheehan, author of Restless Souls

"Karl Geary writes devastatingly beautiful novels. Juno and Legs will break your heart in the very best way and leave you laughing in spite of yourself. It's a perfectly drawn portrait of lives lived boldly on the edge of disaster. A backstreet epic. I literally couldn't put it down." —Jan Carson, author of The Raptures