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A Working-Class Family Ages Badly

ebook / ISBN-13: 9780349702322

Price: £18.99

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How does an untrained eye recognise the process of dying, when your mind is fixed firmly on living?

A radically honest and uplifting memoir about defying death and learning to live.

Juno Roche was born into a working-class family in London in the sixties, who dabbled in minor criminality. For their father, violence and love lived together, for their mother addiction was the only way to survive. School was a respite, but shortly after beginning their university course Juno was diagnosed with HIV, then a death sentence.

Juno is a survivor; they outlived their diagnosis, got a degree and became an artist. But however hard you try to take the kid out of the family, some scars go too deep; trying to run from AIDS and their childhood threw Juno into dark years of serious drug addiction, addiction often financed by sex work.

Running from home eventually took Juno across the sea to a tiny village in Spain, surrounded by mountains. Only once they found a quiet little house with an olive tree in the garden did Juno start to wonder if they had run too far, and whether they have really been searching for a family all along.

In an incredibly honest and brave book, Juno takes us through the moments of their life: Mum sending Christmas cards containing Valium, drug withdrawal on a River Nile cruise, overcoming their father’s violence and finding their dream house in Spain. Showing immense resilience, Juno’s memoir is a book about what it means to stay alive.

Emotional, tragic and incredibly funny, A Working-Class Family Ages Badly is an unforgettable must-read memoir for anyone who loves Educated, Deborah Levy and Motherwell.

What readers are saying about Juno Roche:

‘Juno Roche is a writer that goes beyond the surface, and tackles topics with care, razor sharp intellect, but an open-hearted accessibility. Juno’s writing leaves me affirmed, but also challenged, and always wanting to read more.’ Travis Alabanza

‘Roche’s words are a gift to anyone looking to open their minds and fall in love with the possibilities of love.’ CN Lester

‘An inspiring, empowering book that is very real and staggeringly visionary.’ Attitude

‘Juno’s writing is brilliantly personal and honest and always funny.’ Amelia Abraham

‘I love this brave, inspirational, and ground-breaking book! Juno Roche is having the kinds of conversations about bodies, intimacy and sex that I’ve been longing to hear… Brava, Juno!‘ Barbara Carrellas


‘Simply phenomenal.’ Bitch Media

‘I salute this deeply personal, honest and instructive book.’ Caryn Franklin MBE

Poignant, thought-provoking, ground-breaking and refreshingly honest.’ Workers’ Liberty

‘Juno’s writing shines throughout, and on more than one occasion I found myself nodding my head and thinking, yep, I feel that!‘ Freiya Benson

Reviews

Radically honest memoir . . . Roche's story is one of survival and what it means to stay alive
Bookseller
Juno Roche's memoir is a beautiful and important book, testifying to an extraordinary life of enormous difficulty and enormous courage. It is simultaneously an intensely personal account and an insightful, moving commentary on public events, told with anger and humour in equal measure. It exemplifies what good memoir must have - an authentic interior voice and the story of hard-won transformation. Roche's writing about AIDS, particularly the story of Simon, is delicate and devastating. The movement back and forth in time makes the book a compelling page-turner - and yet, I didn't want it to end. A Working-Class Family Ages Badly is not like any memoir I've read before, and it is up there with the best of them.
Hannah Lowe
In equal parts brutal and beautiful, dark and funny. An incredible story of survival.
Jenny Kleeman
Like Louise Bourgeois' generative and reparative maternal spider, Roche weaves threads from their life into stories that viscerally and cinematically explore intergenerational trauma and the search for love and family from London to Spain via Egypt's Valley of The Kings. And in that beguiling web, they create stories that leave you feeling alive and nourished, or crying and still glad to be alive because they're deftly and beautifully told from the heart. Roche's last three books were already touchstones for me because of the generous space they gave to bold, reflective, and sensitive thinking about queer sex, desire, identity and transness. In this literary memoir, that soft power is infused with their emotional acuity and humour - who else could write a love story that centres pubic lice? Roche's poetic prose, kaleidoscopic colour and killer lines you'll want to memorise, and treasure make A Working-Class Family Ages Badly a singular work of artistic genius.
Chance Czyzselska, writer & psychotherapist
Juno Roche is a sharp-eyed writer who journeys into dark territory with warmth and wit. An important voice for our time.
John McCullough
So gripping, I had to make myself slow down to appreciate the quality of the writing. When I say it's an addictive read, I mean it in the best possible sense. Such a powerful story, and so beautifully written. Bravo, Juno!
Paul Burston
Juno Roche rips up the notion of memoir and replaces it with something far more bold and exciting. A beautifully written elegy to our shared humanity
Angela Chadwick
This book reminded me why Juno is one of my favourite writers. Few can write with such fresh analysis, whilst remaining so full of heart, wit and charm. I'm obsessed with this book
Travis Alabanza
Brutally honest and disarmingly witty, A Working-Class Family Ages Badly overflows with Roche's hallmark unflinching, tender wisdom. Roche, as ever, is generous in giving the reader a new and vital perspective on the many conflicted meanings of life, love, self, and family. Compassionate, dreamlike, and deeply moving
CN Lester
Perfect for fans of Shuggie Bain, Roche's story is enormously moving. Roche is a charming, unflinchingly honest, guide on a journey that's as funny as it is heartbreaking. Written with verve and much lyricism.
Juno Dawson
Juno writes with a daring honesty that makes me feel braver. This is truly a tale of survival.
Cat White
I was completely drawn into Juno's world from the opening pages. A compelling memoir of the complexities of family, and intergenerational trauma made lyrical by the beauty of Juno's writing. This is a must read.
Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah
'For so many of us who grew up in dysfunctional families, our lives are all about escape, but by telling this incredibly important story, Juno Roche teaches us that our identity is not just about the past or the journey, but a future life built on our own terms and the discovery of a destination we can truly call home'
Natasha Carthew, Writer and Artistic Director Class Festival
Are you worthy of tenderness? For survivors, this most human question impels grotesque considerations, which Juno Roche lays bare in masterful prose and with exacting candour. A Working-Class Family Ages Badly is a gripping meditation on how abuse, addiction, and internalised stigma can banish the individual from even the humblest of desires. By the last page, Roche succeeds in revealing just how universal such exile can be, which will leave any reader with a pulse feeling a little less alone.
Jakob Guanzon
Juno has always been a literary voice like no one else, scathingly honest and endlessly expansive. A Working-Class Family Ages Badly makes the much needed links between queerness and class, the HIV pandemic and Covid, and between Brexit and feeling belonging.
Amelia Abraham
This is a powerful combination of beautifully evocative writing with many profound and important messages about the society in which we live
Natasha Devon
A wonderful, indelible work. Juno Roche's prescient exploration of intergenerational trauma and self-regeneration should be read by everyone.
Irenosen Okojie
Juno's writing is such that it both holds you and challenges you at once. Theirs are never easy ideas, but somehow they take big, hard things and make them absolute no brainers. I love Juno's books, but this memoir in particular feels utterly unique in the landscape of memoirs. Nobody has had a life like Juno, and nobody can write with warmth and confrontation the way Juno can. This makes for a totally compelling mix. I found myself laughing and in tears; angry and elated; and overjoyed that Juno's generosity means that this book speaks to everyone while being so remarkably unique to one of the most unique writers I've encountered. It'll be one of few books on my read again and again pile.
Tom Rasmussen