“Julie Buntin understands that a brief but intense best-friendship is not necessarily a coming-of-age tale, but rather an origin story.”
Featured in NPR’s Book Concierge Great Reads of 2017.
“A gritty coming-of-age story about a troubled friendship between two young women.”
Featured in Washington Post’s 50 Notable Fiction Books of 2017.
Marlena is a novel by Julie Buntin and it tells the tales of a wild year that will cost one of two girls her life while defining the other’s existence for decades. Fifteen year old Cat is lonely, as to be expected as she is new to the rural Michigan town. She is off-balance until she meets her neighbor, Marlena, who is a true wild child – manic, beautiful and pill-popping.
Cat is drawn into Marlena’s wild behaviors and recounts many a firsts with the other girl, from her first drink, first cigarette, first kiss and first pill. Marlena’s habits begin to shape her. Within the year, Marlena is dead. She drowned in six inches of icy water in the woods nearby. The incident shocked the entire town to its core.
Decades have passed and a ghost from that momentous year surfaces unexpectedly. Cat must find a way to move on from the past even as the memory of Marlena calls her back.
This book is a poignant dialogue between past and present. It is a tale about how friendships can shape us and sometimes pull us beyond reason. It is about discovering the way to pull oneself back from the brink of destruction.
Absolutely gripping, this novel has be the receiver of much praise and recognition including:
— A National Book Critics Circle Leonard Prize Finalist
— Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
— Named a Best Book of the Year by Vogue, BuzzFeed, The Washington Post, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, NPR, NYLON, Huffington Post, Kirkus Reviews, Barnes & Noble
— Chosen for the Book of the Month Club, Nylon Book Club, and Belletrist Book Club
— Named an Indie Next Pick and a Barnes and Noble Discover Pick