JUNO by Nancy Ashbaugh


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An abrupt, angry and unusual first novel about a Colorado teen-ager who avenges the rape of her sister. Juno Armstrong is the 15-year-old daughter of Leroy, a coarse and ambitious man who made his pile in construction and has decided to make a run at the U.S. Senate out of Gold City, Colorado. While he plans the campaign and travels summers in Europe with his pretentious second wife, Lila, Juno and her 17-year-old sister, sensitive Margaret, spend their time with their hated grandfather at his desert ranch--Juno rides her favorite horse, Red Arab, and Margaret paints. One day Juno goes out to search for Margaret and sees a jeep driven by a man racing wildly away. When she reaches Margaret, she finds her beaten and raped. Juno tries to call the police, but for some reason her father hushes up the affair, and Margaret never says anthing. A year passes and Juno (advanced for her age) heads for college on the West Coast, only to receive a call from Margaret saying that the man who raped her is an aide to their father in his Senate campaign. Juno arrives home in time for Leroy's victory party, lures the aide (whose name is Yates) out to a deserted park, and horsewhips him, scarring him for life. She then thinks about committing suicide, decides against it, and is caught by the police. Eventually she's let off with five years' probation, and falls in love with her psychiatrist. In many ways, a frustrating novel. It's never really known why Margaret's rape was covered up, who ""Yates"" is, what the nature of a mysterious illness is that Juno suffers from, etc. There's the usual problem with adolescent narrators (over-precocity), and the unfocused rage that permeates and sometimes suffocates the novel makes it seem that the book's appeal will be primarily YA. Yet Juno is all in all a charming character and her story--even if it is at heart just one of barely disguised frontier justice--will carry the reader along.

Pub Date: July 28th, 1986
Publisher: St. Martin's