The story is engrossing. The writing is nice. My one quibble is Ms. O'Neill's (over)use of cute descriptions or metaphors - "the sky was the color of lightbulbs that weren't lit" or insects caught in the light of headlamps at night were "scribbling out message from God". This is charming at first, but the frequency of this type of description became distracting and by the end of the book I was sort of over it. But that's a minor complaint.
The novel isn't autobiographical, but it does come from things I observed as a kid and what and who I was attracted to as a kid... I was just so fascinated with people in my neighborhood. I was really intrigued with this pimp who used to talk to me and would try and get me to hang out in his apartment and smoke pot, which is where Alphonse [a character in the book] was born. I could not stay away from deviants as a kid. Whenever I met one, I'd just get so excited. My dad, who isn't like Jules, was continually stupefied by my choice of boyfriends. I use all the details that I encountered as a child in my writing now. They are like my huge reserves for characters and drama.
That's a relief... I guess?