Review: Marlena by Julie Buntin

Marlena by Julie Buntin
Henry Holt | ISBN: 9781627797641 | April 4, 2017 | 288 pages 

Sometimes I read a book and think "I'm going to wait to write my review because I really liked this one." The problem is that life goes on and sometimes I don't get to writing my review for quite a while. That is the case with Marlena. I saw the book popping up on lots of my fellow book bloggers' pages and social media a few months ago, but wasn't initially drawn to the story. I rarely find that authors can adequately capture the unique inner world of teenage girls. When other bloggers and critics were praising Dare Me and The Fever by Megan Abbott, I was let down. There was something forced, but I think a lot of adult women wanted to love it. They wanted a verification that those early teen years weren't all boy bands and braces. They want someone to show the intensity of those friendships and the pain of those first betrayals, the sleepovers that weren't all pillow fights and popcorn. Those are the years we learned about our friends' families and inner lives. We learned of abuses, addictions, and affairs but we also learned who we could and could not trust to talk to about them. 

When a copy arrived in my mail, I decided to give it a shot and was pleasantly surprised! 

After relocating to rural Michigan with her mom and brother, Cat befriends her neighbor, Marlena. While Cat has the typical teenage "firsts" (smoke, kiss, etc.), Marlena is living in a much darker world. Like a million small towns, the drug abuse is rampant, and Cat and Marlena are touched by it in several ways. After a year of friendship, Marlena is dead and Cat is forever changed. Flashing between this pivotal year and alcoholic 30-something Cat, a reader can identify with how young relationships affect us and how they shape our adult selves.

***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***


Helenala said…
Generally, people don't think about small towns when they think of drug abuse. The problem with our society is that we treat drug addicts as criminals rather than giving them the help they need. One thing that a lot of our media forgets to tell us is that some of the medications given to patients are just as addictive as street drugs.
Judy Krueger said…
Excellent review! I feel the same about some YA fiction. In fact, I haven't read any in a long while. I was looking for some to read. Thanks.