Saturday, May 13, 2017

Marlena by Julie Buntin

Marlena, Julie Buntin (Henry Holt, 2017)

Catherine is a straight-A scholarship student at a prestigious private school, but when her parents' marriage falls apart and she moves with her mother and brother to a remote, rural town in Northern Michigan, an alluring new friendship offers Cat an opportunity to reinvent herself. Unlike Cat, Marlena is exciting and edgy, irresistible yet dangerous, and the girls, each broken in different ways, form a deep bond that both saves and destroys them.

It's a compelling if sometimes wrenching story. Buntin writes convincingly and often beautifully about the intensity of teen-hood and the complexities of female friendships, and I was drawn in by every subtle shift and nuance in Marlena and Cat's relationship.

Marlena is well worth reading for this alone, but what especially set the novel apart for me was Cat's keen self-awareness, both as a damaged adult looking back, and within the story as it unfolded. As drawn as she is to Marlena, Cat knows they are not quite the same. Something is always held back, the tension determining their fates.

Check out this insightful interview with author Julie Buntin over on Book Talk.

Happy reading (and listening!)

I received my complimentary copy of Marlena from the publisher.

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