Sometimes when I feel very stressed and a glass of wine just won’t do, I find myself turning on a show like Intervention, because I know when watching it, I will realize whatever I have going on is not that bad. Things could be much worse. And sometimes I need that to make myself feel better.
Marlena acted in the same away for me. It tells the story of Cat, a 15-year-old girl used to prep school and a nuclear family, only to be relocated to Michigan with her newly single mother and older brother. Next door she meets 17-year-old Marlena, living with her younger brother and drug dealer father, living a life Cat could never imagine. All too soon, she gets swept up under Marlena’s influence.
Like a slow motion car accident where you can’t look away, Cat’s perfect life is turned upside down in favor of hanging out with Cat and her friends by drinking, smoking, using drugs, and skipping school. In losing her past identity and becoming lonely, Cat clings to Marlena and the comfort she brings of friendship and close connections. The downhill spiral Cat takes upon meeting Marlena made me glad to be out of high school, knowing how self-esteem and loneliness play a huge part in making friends.
In Cat’s one year of meeting Marlena chronicled in this story, it is telling that her grownup life is affected and her decision-making as an adult is still heavily influenced by this teenage year.
This book reminded me in a lot of ways of Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman and The Girls from Corona Del Mar by Rufi Thorpe. If you’re like me and find books about destructive female friendships almost therapeutic, be sure to pick this one up.
About the author:
Julie Buntin is from northern Michigan. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Cosmopolitan, O, The Oprah Magazine, Slate, Electric Literature, and One Teen Story, among other publications. She teaches fiction at Marymount Manhattan College, and is the Director of Writing Programs at Catapult. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Marlena is her debut novel.
Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader. U.S. only, please. Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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