"I was raised zero-parent," says hormone-addled 17-year-old Junebug Host, "what the newspapers call it when your mother is in prison and the father was just a sperm." Junebug has been visiting her mother in Ellisville Reformatory for Women ever since she was five years-old, when beauty queen Theresa Host calmly stepped out of their trailer with an axe and inexplicably bludgeoned a neighbor to death. But during the summer of Junebug's high school graduation-and the summer of her first wildly passionate affair-with a snake-smooth greaser 20 years her senior-Theresa reels in her oversexed daughter, and shatters her world, by suddenly announcing the motive she had kept to herself since the day of the murder: an act of vengeance for a crime in which Junebug was intimately involved. "I did it for you," she tells Junebug, who is thrown into a ferment of memory and guilt. Set in the outsized landscape of far-western Nebraska, a nebulous region little known in contemporary fiction, and peopled by characters whose extreme individuality is exceeded only by their eccentricity-born again Fundamentalist snake charmers, housewives making ends meet with phone sex 900-number businesses, a 300-pound New Age priestess and the traveling meat salesman who worships her, as well as the all-female inmate population of the Ellisville Reformatory, Junebug is a novel with the intensity of the mother/daughter bond itself, with all its wildness, tragedy and depth. Maureen McCoy is the author of three previous novels, Diving Blood, Summertime, and Walking After Midnight (Poseiden/Simon & Schuster). She received her MFA from the Writers Workshop, University of Iowa, and is a Professor of English at Cornell. Among her many awards are the James Michener Award, the Wurlitzer Foundation Award, and the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship in the Humanities, chosen by Toni Morrison.