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Heart of Junk

3.13  ·  Rating details ·  608 ratings  ·  129 reviews
A hilarious debut novel about an eclectic group of merchants at a Kansas antique mall who become implicated in the kidnapping of a local beauty pageant star.

The city of Wichita, Kansas, is wracked with panic over the abduction of toddler pageant princess Lindy Bobo. However, the dealers at The Heart of America Antique Mall are too preoccupied by their own neurotic compuls
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 21st 2020 by Simon Schuster
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Average rating 3.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  608 ratings  ·  129 reviews

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Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As I was reading this, I was finishing the process of unpacking both my own and some of my late mother's possessions into a new apartment. (Moving really cuts into your reading time, by the way.) There's nothing like moving to make you wonder why you have what you have ("OK, I declare a moratorium on buying nail polish"), why you're missing things you need (how did I not have my own can opener, and where did I put the shower curtain hooks?!), and where your possessions fit into your life. So I w ...more
Jan 29, 2020 rated it liked it
“Heart of Junk” by Luke Geddes has such a fun and enticing cover that I knew I had to pick it up. The cover reminded me of some of the things I’ve been holding onto since childhood, such as the first book I ever read (“Fun With Dick and Jane”) and mementos from family and friends. I feel good about keeping those items but I know there are lots of old treasures (junk) I could get rid of at a place like the “Heart of America Antique Mall.” Geddes has written a satirical novel about a group of unus ...more
Thank you, Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for sending me a digital ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

This seems to be a very conflicted novel. Either people love it or loathe it. I thought the writing was excellent. The dialogue was crisp and very humorous. Keep in mind, this book is a SATIRE. Not everyone will enjoy this particular genre because some of the characters are written in a stereotypical way, but it's NOT to be taken seriously, which is the point of a satire. If you don't get eas
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
In the beginning, I had high hopes for this book! It was purchased as a mystery book (wrapped in paper) and I was pleasantly surprised at the laugh out loud moments and the idiosyncrasies of the characters. However, after a while, I realized I had no one to root for. Unfortunately, most of the characters in this book are assholes and I found it difficult to invest in their development.
Deedi Brown (DeediReads)
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: publisher-arcs
All my reviews live at

TL;DR review: Heart of Junk is a laugh-inducing, refreshing little story that will tug at your heart strings harder than you expect. Every character is weird a lovable and well-written. I loved it.

For you if: You’re looking for a good giggle, and maybe to have your heart cracked open a little bit.

Big thank you to the folks over at Simon & Schuster for sending me an advanced review copy of this book! You were right, this was right up my alle
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
very funny and a very full 240 pages and plotty (I love plot). I don’t have to care about what happens to enjoy a book or even be particularly curious, but I did care and was curious. Read in two sittings if such a metric holds weight for you.
Feb 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: humor-satire
3.5 stars. Luke Geddes is a 2011 graduate of Wichita State's MFA in creative writing program. I had a chance to hear him speak a couple of weeks ago at our local bookstore. In person, he is funny and warm with a dry wit and he surely has a bright future. The book though is odd and quirky; set in a fictional antique mall in Wichita, KS and it was fun to read about familiar places, although some of his characters are a bit snobby, snarky, and downright mean about life in Wichita. Geddes is not wro ...more
Erin Glover
This book may remind you of someone you know who likes to go "antiquing". Or maybe it will remind you of yourself if you like flea markets and garage sales. The novel is most interesting for its setting--a huge flea market in Wichita, Kansas. The story is told through the characters who rent the antique mall's booths as well as its owners.

The common thread among the characters seems to be how overburdened their lives are by the accumulation of material things. "Nobody ever bought anything to ma
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
I was so primed to enjoy this book. As a 45 year old vinyl collector with the heart of a punk and a penchant for MCM and antique malls who lives in Wichita, KS, I was ready to poke fun of myself, smile, and enjoy a light ride. I saw the author speak at Watermark in Wichita during a small ice flurry. He was late to the talk (I assume weather-related), and was a little flustered when he arrived. He was nervous, self-deprecating, and talked with affection for esoteric weirdo music and visiting anti ...more
Dec 14, 2019 rated it liked it
2.75 stars rounded up.
I used to seek out the local antique malls every time I arrived in a small town so the world of Wichita, Kansas’ fictional The Heart of America Antique Mall is one I am very familiar with. The author did an admirable job of setting the stage for his unique / strange group of dealers selling everything from cut glass to collectible records reinforcing that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. And while I enjoyed the references to the many toys and music from my childhoo
This is one I really wanted to love---a darkly comic tale about a group of merchants who share space (sometimes acrimoniously) in a Wichita, Kansas, antique mall circa 2009. Two things connect the various stories: a visit from Mark and Grant, hosts of an Antique Roadshow-style show and the panic that's inflamed Wichita when a toddler beauty pageant contestant named Lindy Bobo goes missing.

I loved some of the storylines, particularly the conflict between repressed lesbian Margaret who takes an i
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
This was started off strong, I was enjoying the characters and the author's sense of humor, but then it became inconceivable and a bit muddled. ...more
Lolly K Dandeneau
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
via my blog:
'A collection was a record of a life lived, maybe not well or happily but at least with attention and passion. It was an autobiography made tangible.'

The Heart of America Antique Mall in the city of Wichita, Kansas is going under. For the impassioned collectors of what to others may be junk, this has been the one place they can display and sell the collectibles that are their lifeblood. They themselves are a collection of misfits, as strange and
Christa Van
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book about an antique mall in Topeka filled with odd duck "dealers" who are barely making it. They love their collections more than anything. Oh yea, but someone has kidnapped a young beauty queen. Trust me, my description here doesn't make a lot of sense but I come from a family of collectors and for the first time, I really felt "scene" (on their behalf, I'm not a big collector). This book made my day. The audio is perfect. Loved each character more than the last. ...more
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, april-2020
Charming cast of characters with a fun setting. I love when people are really into things so I enjoyed all the collectors and their passions. The Lindy storyline didn't totally come together for me but this is a lovely book. ...more
Dec 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Seems like people either love or hate this book – I'm among those who loved it!

Such a fun and engaging satire. The characters were detailed, interesting, and often laugh-out-loud funny. I felt like I knew them. Yes, they are in some ways one-dimensional and archetypal – each character definitely has consistent themes that follow them through the story – but I think that's a necessity in order for the readers to keep up with all the different narrators. Each character still had enough quirks to
Jeanne Andersen
Jan 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Although reviewed as "hilarious" as well as poignant, I found this story to be tragic for the most part. Loneliness and low self esteem leading to malignant self centeredness and obsession with objects to the detriment of human connection is not amusing. I did, however, find the story insightful and, in the case of a few of the characters, hopeful. I highly recommend this book, but not as a comedy. ...more
Feb 13, 2021 rated it it was ok
While I can appreciate this as well written and I enjoyed the eclectic characters, none of them were likable and the plot wasn’t compelling, making it a slog to get through.
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: satire
If you've ever wandered through an antique mall and marveled over some of the stuff some people choose to value and the people who make their living providing those things, you'll probably enjoy this satirical novel. It takes semi polite potshots at a number of classic misfits and self involved bulldozers while sniffing at the kinds of items being offered and purchased for unexpected prices. I snickered a lot.
I requested and received a free ebook copy from Simon and Schuster Publishing via NetG
Feb 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Very enjoyable quirky read. Good audio production. I’d love to revisit these lives after some time passes.
Dec 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The concept here was great, and I think overall the story would work well as a tv series or miniseries but the writing was a letdown. Some parts of this book seemed a bit homophobic and racist, sometimes both at the same time! Most of the characters were bigots in one way or another. Lots of self hate going on with the characters too, phew. Maybe the author is struggling with their own sense of identity I don't know but it sure was hard to read at times.

I'm going with 2.5-3 stars here because I
Sep 22, 2019 added it
Shelves: arc, own, dnf
DNF. Nope. Not interesting to me.
Mar 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
For more reviews and bookish posts please visit:

Heart of Junk by Luke Geddes is a novel about a group of antique dealers in Wichita, Kansas. Mr. Geddes is writer from Cincinnati, OH.

At The Heart of America Antique Mall the dealers are excited, a famous antiques television show, Pickin’ Fortunes, are planning to film an episode at the mall and they all believe that this is what they need to turn their flailing businesses around. The show’s producers, however, refuse to
Dec 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways
Thank you to Simon and Schuster for this copy in exchange for my honest review.

The Heart of America Antique Mall in Wichita, Kansas is filled with an interesting cast of characters. From Margaret, the longest-running vendor who judges other vendors and the "trash" they sell, to Delores, the Barbie collector whose dolls "speak" to her, each person is more unique than the next. Couple Lee and Seymour arrive back at Lee's hometown after their store in Massachusetts failed, hoping to make a fresh s
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, netgalley, mystery
The set-up: The Heart of America mall is billed as "the largest year-round antiques market in the state of Kansas". It used to be quite the thriving business but times have changed. "Antiques" have largely been replaced by collectibles, flea market bargains, and just plain junk sold by a motley assortment of oddballs and misfits - a few old timers, a few newcomers, and a lot of empty space.

It's an open secret that the place is on the verge of permanently closing up shop. An impending visit by a
Pamela Hatch
I was thrilled when I saw the cover of this book with all the little trinkets similar to ones I own - and the title made my old heart flutter. When I opened to the end pages and it had a floor plan of the store I thought I was in heaven so naturally I took it home to read. The author's style of writing is a little wonky but I enjoyed it for a while but the story itself could not keep my interest so I decided to give up for now since another whole stack of books are waiting. However there were a ...more
Ed Bernard
Mar 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
A loopy, rather endearing, semi-uproarious lark about a failing antiques mall in Wichita. There are an array a wacky characters who have their own specialties of what they sell, there are workplace politics, the possibility of attracting a television show about antiquing, talking Barbies, repressed homosexuality, actual homosexuality, even a kidnapping of a pre-pubescent beauty queen. Oh, and a rather touching and deeply felt story about a dad and his daughter, which culminates in the richest em ...more
Jan 13, 2021 rated it liked it
Man, I wanted Goodreads to be wrong on this one! The premise seemed different enough and fun and a change of pace from my last two books dealing with religion, addiction, racial tension, etc and I hoped Heart of Junk would be just the reprieve I needed. Some of the characters are total oddballs and for the first half, I could really see this book being turned into a mini-series on TV - I could totally see the fun in designing the set of Heart of America and casting the idiosyncratic characters o ...more
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
The synopsis says that this a comic novel, but I found it very dark...almost dystopian. To me it was a comment on the despair of Trump's America out in the so-called "heartland".

The book is set in a failing antiques center in Wichita, Kansas. The last hope of the owner to salvage his finances, his relationships with his wife and daughter, and the disappointments of his life is the possibility of the attention he believes the center will receive when a pair of cable TV antique pickers come to fi
Matthew Grolemund
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A sharp, satirical look at life and community in places like Wichita, KS - having lived there for a while, I can say Luke Geddes knows his setting - but the real focus isn't so much Wichita or any city but the community created by the character's shared interest in collecting/hoarding bits of nostalgia and pop culture. This novel takes the kind of people you'll meet in both those communities and pushes their eccentricities to the extreme. Many characters will drive you crazy, but that's part of ...more
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Luke Geddes holds a PhD in comparative literature and creative writing from the University of Cincinnati. Originally from Appleton, Wisconsin, he now lives Cincinnati, Ohio. He is the author of the short story collection I am a Magical Teenage Princess and his writing has appeared in Conjunctions, Mid-American Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Washington Square, The Comics Journal, Electric Literatur ...more

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