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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Wacky on the Junk is a non-fiction memoir written by Kathy Varner. In her introduction, Varner describes her memoir as being “told through the voice of someone who often feels like a foreigner air-dropped onto the Island of Life -- with no survival tools.” Kathy was the fifth kid in her family, born, she suspected, as the result of too many Manhattans and martinis at one of her parents’ frequent cocktail parties, an afterthought or maybe even an accident? She remembers loving those parties and dreading the moment when she would inevitably be sent off to bed. Hers was a musical family; her father taught and was a band director at a college, and her mom directed the women’s chorus. Varner’s only brother, Robert, had sustained some brain damage as an infant, and would be a beloved fixture in her family’s home; someone she had a special connection to. As Kathy grew up, she found herself visiting therapists while growing up on the family’s diet of Wonder Bread, Fruit Loops, and Little Debbies. Could all the sugary foods have been the proximate cause of her parents both succumbing to Alzheimer's and would a late-in-life reversal to a healthier diet save her and her family from a similar fate?
Kathy Varner’s Wacky on the Junk is marvelous! Varner’s voice is self-deprecating and exuberant all at once. Her stories are grand reading, particularly those about the impromptu concerts, acid trips, and challenges of life as a young and new adult. The author seems to tuck your arm in hers and then proceeds to show you how it was when she was growing up: the good, the not-so-good, and the relatively insane, and it’s all definitely worth the experience. Varner’s life is a well-lived one, and her memoir captures that sense beautifully. Wacky on the Junk is well-written and engaging, and her voice is true to form throughout. It’s most highly recommended.