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A Working-Class Family Ages Badly

On sale

21st July 2022

Price: £18.99

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Selected: Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9780349702346

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‘An incredibly honest tale of survival, escape and resilience’ The Observer

‘Roche is a charming, unflinchingly honest guide on a journey that’s as funny as it is heart-breaking.’ JUNO DAWSON

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 crime. 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.

‘Delicate and devastating. Up there with the best of them.’ HANNAH LOWE, WINNER OF THE COSTA PRIZE

‘Full of heart, wit and charm. I’m obsessed with this book.’ Travis Alabanza

So gripping, I had to make myself slow down to appreciate the quality of the writing. Such a powerful story and so beautifully written.’ Paul Burston

‘Utterly unique. Nobody can write with warmth and confrontation the way Juno can.’ Tom Rasmussen

‘Compassionate, dreamlike and deeply moving.’ CN Lester

‘Should be read by everyone.’ Irenosen Okojie

‘Juno has always been a literary voice like no one else, scathingly honest and endlessly expansive.‘ Amelia Abraham


Radically honest memoir . . . Roche's story is one of survival and what it means to stay alive
Travis Alabanza
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
John McCullough
Juno Roche is a sharp-eyed writer who journeys into dark territory with warmth and wit. An important voice for our time.
Natasha Carthew, Writer and Artistic Director Class Festival
'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'
Irenosen Okojie
A wonderful, indelible work. Juno Roche's prescient exploration of intergenerational trauma and self-regeneration should be read by everyone.
Hannah Lowe
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.
Jenny Kleeman
In equal parts brutal and beautiful, dark and funny. An incredible story of survival.
Paul Burston
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!
Natasha Devon
This is a powerful combination of beautifully evocative writing with many profound and important messages about the society in which we live
Juno Dawson
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.
Cat White
Juno writes with a daring honesty that makes me feel braver. This is truly a tale of survival.
Angela Chadwick
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
Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah
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.
Amelia Abraham
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.
CN Lester
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
Jakob Guanzon
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.
Chance Czyzselska, writer & psychotherapist
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.
Tom Rasmussen
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.
Julie Cohen
I'm floored by Juno's exquisite prose paired with stark brutality, portraying pain and love and hope and despair, all in the same sentence. It's a beautiful book.
Ben East, Observer
[A] remarkable memoir . . . An incredibly honest tale of survival, escape and resilience
Chance Czyzselska, DIVA
Achingly exquisite . . . Roche stands out as a memoirist of the highest calibre with a voice that teaches us how to live with emotional intelligence, wit and vigour, a voice that is sorely needed in this moment.
A sentence or two gives a whole back story, a comma gives insight, a reflection shared offering a re-assessment of trauma and painful memories in the comfort of a well-worn safe place. More than once I felt the tears come before being made to smile by the raw swift wit laid like flowers between the hard spaces