Justine
by Forsyth Harmon

An illustrated novel about isolation and miscommunication, obsession and heartbreak, and unraveling and being remade.

Ali is a teenager on Long Island, and when she visits the local Stop & Shop, she finds herself overwhelmingly drawn to a cashier, the seductive but troubled Justine, and applies for a job on the spot. Justine takes Ali under her wing, and Ali’s fixation on Justine grows. From her, Ali learns a new way to live, one focused on the exterior – how best to bag groceries, what foods to eat (and not eat), how to shoplift, who to admire, and who she can become outside of her lonely home, where her inattentive grandmother hardly seems to notice the changes in Ali. But even as Ali reshapes herself to Justine’s ideals, their inability to connect and speak to each other truthfully only emphasizes their isolation.

Accompanied by Forsyth’s precise and evocative art, Justine is an unflinching, intimate portrayal of American girlhood at the edge of adulthood, and the dangerous illusion of perfect control.

Coming from Tin House March 2nd.

Pre-order here ︎︎︎


Justine has the perfect electric feeling of that crush you have on the person you want to be next, when you don’t know any better, and you can’t tell if you’re running away from them or toward them. Harmon’s mix of text and image is seamless, intimate, a continuous dream, and Justine bring her talents together with formidable force and grace. A show-stopping debut.”
—Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

Justine is a lushly rendered portrait of suburban teen girlhood in whose urgent and exquisite pages adolescent malaise, disordered eating, and the erotics of obsession are given the gravity of Greek drama. Forsyth Harmon is an artist who understands the holy power of longing.”
—Melissa Febos, author of Girlhood

“With reservoirs of emotional intelligence plus pinpoint precision of prose and line, Harmon conjures the world with a vividness peculiar to adolescence: she is devastatingly attuned to something as tiny as the poem of an unspooling cassette, as well as the enormity of those subtle yet life-shifting currents of longing, loathing and eroticism that can run between two teenage girls. An exquisite book.”
—Hermione Hoby, author of Neon in Daylight

“Desire and self-destruction have a way of eclipsing and re-eclipsing each other in adolescence, as we look for reasons to live and ways to avoid living. With nervy, exacting illustrations and effortless prose, Forsyth Harmon’s Justine chronicles that struggle with the clarity and mystery of a black opal.”
—Catherine Lacey, author of Pew

“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, author of The Changeling

“I’ve known Forsyth Harmon by the luxurious, eerie lines of her illustrations for years, and what a joy to discover that her writing is just as rich as her drawings. Justine beautifully captures the ragged-edged complexities of female friendship and the raw force with which a teenage girl moves through the turbulence of her previously quiet life. Justine functions like an illuminated manuscript, in which illustration can live independently yet brings wealths of new meaning to a text, weaving together a world that’s pulsingly alive.”
—Kristen Radtke, author of Imagine Wanting Only This