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An "LGBTQ Book That Will Change The Literary Landscape in 2021" —O, The Oprah Magazine
"Justine is unsettling, adoring, insightful, and even a little frightening. The best books carry insights that will shake you. That's what happened to me in this piercing novel. It shook me, and it made me see." —Victor LaValle
Ali is a lonely teenager living an isolated life with her grandmother on Long Island in the late 1990s. When she visits the local Stop & Shop, Ali finds herself inexplicably and overwhelmingly drawn to a cashier, the seductive but troubled Justine, who is so tall and thin she looks almost two-dimensional as her long fingers flutter over the cash register. “There was something spooky about Justine,” Ali says. “Her smile lit me up and exposed me all at once.” Ali applies for a job on the spot.
In the weeks that follow, Justine takes Ali under her wing, and Ali’s fixation with Justine grows. From Justine, Ali learns a new way to live—how best to bag groceries, what foods to eat (and not to eat), how to shoplift, who to admire, and who she can become outside of her quiet home, where her inattentive grandmother hardly seems to notice the ways that Ali keeps changing. But even as Ali reshapes herself in Justine’s image, her inability to more deeply connect with her newfound idol leads to a series of events that will forever change the lives of these two girls on the edge of adulthood.
Forsyth Harmon is the author and illustrator of the forthcoming illustrated novel Justine (Tin House, 2021). She is also illustrating Melissa Febos’ forthcoming essay collection, Girlhood (Bloomsbury, 2021). Forsyth illustrated The Art of the Affair (Bloomsbury, 2017) with Catherine Lacey. She has also collaborated with writers Alexander Chee, Hermione Hoby, and Leslie Jamison. Her work has been featured in The Believer, Tin House, Virginia Quarterly Review and The Awl. She received both her BA and MFA from Columbia University.
Kristen Radtke is the author of the graphic nonfiction book Imagine Wanting Only This. The recipient of a 2019 Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant, Radtke is the art director and deputy publisher of The Believer. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Marie Claire, The Atlantic, The Guardian, GQ, Vogue, and Oxford American, among many other publications.