Reviewed by Helyce
At age 17, Jasper Richardson gave up on his dream of going away to college to do the right thing and stay home to care for his ailing mother. After her death, he could have gone away, but events of his experience and the emotional burdens he now carried hindered him from moving forward. He began to bury himself within the walls of his home, bringing home everything from books to newspapers that he couldn’t bear to see thrown out. Each day his routine was the same, until that fateful day when he finally reached out for help.
Lewis Miller and his sister Carol have a business that helps people who have a hoarding problem. They come in, try to pin point the source of the problem, offer counseling and provide tools to help clear out the clutter of your home. When Jasper finally makes the call and meets Lewis for the first time he is surprised by his reaction to him. There is a definite attraction, but Lewis makes it clear that while Jasper is a client, they cannot pursue anything they might feel for each other.
As Lewis and Jasper begin to work together, Jasper makes good progress and Lewis breaks his number one rule of not getting involved with a client. But as Jasper continues to improve and take some really big steps, he reveals something that causes Lewis to pull away. He doesn’t want to be a crutch for Jasper. Until Jasper can prove that he can continue to progress on his own, Lewis must stay away. It was exactly what Jasper needed to make some really tough choices.
Josephine Myles has fast become a favorite author of mine. I can always count on her to bring me quirky characters with interesting issues to overcome. In Junk, she does this brilliantly. Jasper has been holding on to so much over the years and all the hurt and betrayal he was feeling somehow manifested itself by compelling him to bring home every scrap of paper, newspaper, and book that he came across either at work or at the thrift stores that he frequented. As a university librarian, he was an avid reader to begin with—but in this job, it was all too easy for him to feed this need he seemed to have. When a stack of books fall over and he realizes that he now cannot even enter the room due to the avalanche of book behind the door he makes the most important call of his life and gets some help.
Jasper’s character was so very interesting to me. I was pulled in to the story and kept reading because I just needed to get to the point where the “why” and “how” of his situation is finally revealed. A likeable man, you’d never guess how he lived once he crossed the threshold of his front door. The reasons behind his hoarding are revealed slowly, with an emotional quality that both cements and hinders the budding relationship between Jasper and Lewis. I was totally unprepared for Jasper’s revelations, but after learning it, everything seems to fall into place.
Ms. Myles uses Japser’s revelations well to provide Lewis with the excuse he needed to back away just when things began to fall into place with him and Jasper’s relationship. Confused and heartbroken Jasper begins the difficult task of breaking many years worth of bad habits. His determination to win Lewis back at the forefront and exactly what he needed to push him into making the changes necessary to get his life in order.
This author once again took a somewhat odd choice for a subject and spun a believable tale that gave me characters that I could relate to in such a way that I felt invested in the outcome. Secondary characters were perfect-providing much needed support to Jasper and kicking Lewis in the ass when he needed it! As with all of Ms. Myles stories-there is a lot of British slang and humor; Google gets a workout when I read one of her books. I might need to ask her to include a British/English glossary next time!
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