Junior by Ray Donley


Email this review


In Donley’s satire, Joshua Jennings Jr., the lone survivor in his family, finds himself the leading suspect of a terrorist attack that his father executed.

Jennings once idolized his father, an influential man known as “Senior,” who bankrolled the campaign and secured the election of the current president. However, as Joshua became an adult, living in his father’s shadow lost its appeal. The shadow grew darker when his father not only set out to kill the president, vice president, himself and his family, but also set up the massacre to look as though Joshua had committed the crime. In an ironic twist, Joshua, now a wanted man, has also become a celebrity. Despite his infamy, the people he encounters as he flees for his life are pleased to have met someone famous; they agree to keep his whereabouts a secret. On the insistence of his fellow traveler, Pete, Joshua keeps a steady journal outlining his travels all over America—including North Dakota, which has, upon his father’s advice to the Israeli prime minister, become the home of 95 percent of Israel’s population—until Joshua mysteriously disappears. The novel reads as a diary but also includes many footnotes, contributing to the story’s hilarious hyperbole. This imaginative, richly humorous novel pokes fun at America’s fixation with notoriety and throws surprises at the reader nearly every page. Small moments of profundity abound, such as Joshua’s musings on the argument that “everything happens for a reason”: “I am not so sure that is true. It seems to me that sometimes, things just happen. The bottom line, I think, is: We are just not that important.” At times comical, at times thoughtful, this novel is packed with memorable moments and refreshing insights on some of the more serious parts of life.

A highly readable account of one man’s journey from suspected terrorist to sought-after celebrity.

Pub Date: June 28th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1938416002
Page count: 370pp
Publisher: River Grove Books
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online: