The Queen of Junk Island by Alexandra Mae Jones

The Queen of Junk Island is a Canadian queer, coming-of-age-finding-yourself story. It’s messy, raw, and frustrating and feels just like being a teenager felt. It is set during the time when I was a teenager (early 2000s) so the nostalgia was very strong with this one for me. The book opens with the dedication, “for all the girls who grew up feeling too many things, in too many directions” and I knew I had found something I could connect with.

The novel’s protagonist is Dell, who is not easy to like, a teenager who is trying to figure out who she is and where she comes from, all through summer at an old family cottage. She has wished for years her mother would take her to the family home and tell her more about her family’s history and secrets. For as long as she can remember it has just been her mother and her, all alone with dead grandparents and too many questions without answers. She could be excited about answers, but instead, the previous tenant ended up treating the property like a junkyard and now Dell and her mom and her mom’s boyfriend’s daughter Ivy, are stuck cleaning up junk island all summer.

It doesn’t help anything that Dell has some trauma from her last year at high school and is running from the pain and mess, while also trying to figure out who the heck she is. Ivy is difficult to get along with and challenges her in swimming and sexuality. It is thrilling but also scary and confusing to start to question who she likes. Dell doesn’t much like who she is these days, and the teenage angst, trauma and hatred are strong in this one. You may want to take a little caution if that is a trigger for you, this book is darker and a bit grittier than I expected. Also, a lot of this language and the way things were seen, especially “bi isn’t real” and “slut shaming” all came flashing back. So be aware of that, that there is some outdated language and ideas, but the truth was that was the reality of that time. A challenging coming of age, with personal growth among difficulties.

ALEXANDRA MAE JONES is a writer based in Toronto. Her short fiction has been published in several literary magazines, and she is a freelance reporter for

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Annick Press (May 3 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 424 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1773216341
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1773216348

Laurie Burns is an English as additional language teacher to immigrants, literacy volunteer and voracious reader living in Dartmouth.