Call Number
Material Type
Corning - Southeast Steuben County Library 1 FIC BEA Adult Fiction Book
Elmira - Steele Memorial Library 1 FICTION New books

On Order



Shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

Miranda July meets Mary Karr in this brilliant debut novel from Jen Beagin, Whiting Award winner and "one of the freshest voices I've read in years--funny, wise, whip-smart and compassionate" (Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins ), about a cleaning lady on a quest for self-acceptance after her relationship with a loveable junkie goes awry.

Jen Beagin's quirky, moving, "frank and unflinching" (Josh Ferris) debut novel introduces an unforgettable character, Mona--almost twenty-four, emotionally adrift, and cleaning houses to get by. Handing out clean needles to drug addicts, she falls for a recipient she calls Mr. Disgusting, who proceeds to break her heart in unimaginable ways.

In search of healing, Mona decamps to Taos, New Mexico, for a fresh start, where she finds a community of seekers and cast-offs, all of whom have one or two things to teach her--the pajama-wearing, blissed-out New Agers, the slightly creepy client with peculiar tastes in controlled substances, the psychic who might really be psychic. But always lurking just beneath the surface are her memories of growing up in a chaotic, destructive family from which she's trying to disentangle herself, and the larger legacy of the past she left behind.

The story of Mona's journey to find her place in this working-class American world is at once hilarious and wonderfully strange, true to life and boldly human, and introduces a stunningly one-of-a-kind new voice in American fiction.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Twenty-four-year-old Mona, the compelling protagonist in Beagin's smart and funny debut, makes a living as a cleaning lady in Massachusetts, while volunteering at a clean-needle exchange. After she becomes intrigued by a man she affectionately refers to as Mr. Disgusting, she embarks on an unconventional, yet tender relationship. Mr. Disgusting, however, struggles with sobriety and eventually ends things with Mona, urging her to move to New Mexico to start over. Mona takes his advice and heads to the desert, renting half of an adobe house, the other half of which is inhabited by a hippie couple who make a misguided attempt to take her under their wing. As Mona charts a new path, she finds herself confronting her past, particularly the fragmented relationship with her wayward father. At the same time, her burgeoning housekeeping business introduces others into her life, notably a single father who may be hiding a disturbing secret and an eccentric psychic who convinces Mona to spy on her ex-husband. Mona's internal struggles are thoughtfully realized, and Beagin's sharply drawn characters share the universal longing for connection.--Strauss, Leah Copyright 2015 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

If Beagin's debut novel feels voyeuristic, it's due to its incisive realism and the protagonist's fascination with the people around her. Mona spends her 20s cleaning other people's houses and observing her clients intently. After a heartbreak involving an addict Mona calls Mr. Disgusting, she leaves Lowell, Mass., for Taos, N.M. The book comes alive in this new location, where Mona encounters New Age neighbors, a family that may be hiding something, and a cleavage-bearing, leopard print-wearing psychic. As Mona gains insight into the lives of those around her, she comes closer to confronting her own traumas. Her quick wit (she tells people that oven cleaner is her poison of choice) and the surprising turns in the narrative (Mona's clients are always more complex than they initially seem) keep this journey of self-discovery from veering into cliché. The result is a funny, touching look at loneliness and the search for belonging. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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