Thursday 11 April 2024

Juliet The Maniac by Juliet Escoria #BookReview #RePublished @julietescoria @melvillehouse @NikkiTGriffiths


A new edition of this debut coming-of-age novel: first published in 2019 it is more relevant and contemporary today than ever in its intense and honest exploration of mental illness and addiction.

A messy, chaotic and raw depiction of the space between girlhood and womanhood and learning to cope with inner demons.

Escoria explores the line between fiction and nonfiction with emotional precision and deft storytelling.

Mental Health Awareness Week happens 13 to 19 May 2024

Juliet is a typical teenage girl—a little beast. Shrewd and frank and real, this novel follows her efforts to survive herself, as she tries to make sense of her on-and-off relationship with recovery, while traipsing through mid-90’s, Southern California.

Juliet knows she should be poised for success. She knows her honors English teacher shouldn’t be pity changing her grades from F’s to C’s, knows she shouldn’t be snorting coke and chain-smoking at the Palms, knows she shouldn’t be hallucinating shadowy, Joan-of-Arc-like messages from God. But there is something dark and violent inside of her fourteen-year-old heart that makes it impossible for her to stop self-destructing. The two forced hospitalizations didn’t help her, neither did the outpatient facility for gay, depressed art kids—maybe Redwood Trails therapeutic boarding school will?

Through her Didion-esque lens, Escoria captures the brutality of girlhood—its fleeting, toxic friendships, the monstrous ways anger transforms, and the constant feeling of being close to normal, but not normal at all.

Juliet the Maniac by Juliet Escoria will be re-published in paperback on 11 April 2024 by Melville House.

I read and reviewed Juliet the Maniac back in May 2019, and am delighted to share that review again for this most recent publication of the book

This is a stark, to the point and often very difficult novel to read.  Not only is the structure of the story unusual, but the contents are at times horrifying and brutal.

Told, in the main, by fourteen-year-old Juliet; the reader is exposed to her innermost thoughts as she battles the mental illness that almost kills her. For it is a disease and it is the disease that kills, regardless of if the actual killing is carried out by ones own hand.

As the main character's name is the same as that of the author, it's often easy to imagine that you are reading a true account, rather than a novel, and I'd suggest that this author may have taken experiences from her own life when writing this book. 

Juliet the Maniac is divided into the four parts of Juliet's life, as she sees them when looking back as an adult. From the initial downward spiral into the black hole of addiction and mental illness, through various forms of treatment and rehabilitation and two failed suicide attempts, the reader is there, alongside Juliet, and in her head, all of the time.

Powerful and at times, beautiful. There's a poetic quality to this author's writing, but this does not diminish the brutality of some of her descriptive prose.

A story that will linger and haunt the reader. Never easy to read but incredibly moving.

JULIET ESCORIA is the author of the poetry collection WITCH HUNT (Lazy Fascist Press 2016) and
the story collection BLACK CLOUD (CCM/Emily Books 2014), which were both listed in various best of the year roundups. 

Her writing can be found in places like Lenny, Catapult, VICE, Prelude, Dazed, and Hobart and has already been translated into many languages. 

She lives in West Virginia with her husband, the writer Scott McClanahan.

Twitter @julietescoria

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