Author(s): Julie Buntin
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
Everything about fifteen-year-old Cat's new town in rural Michigan is lonely and off-kilter until she meets her neighbor, the manic, beautiful, pill-popping Marlena. Cat is quickly drawn into Marlena's orbit and as she catalogues a litany of firsts--first drink, first cigarette, first kiss, first pill--Marlena's habits harden and calcify. Within a year, Marlena is dead, drowned in six inches of icy water in the woods nearby. Now, decades later, Cat must try again to move on, even as the memory of Marlena calls her back.
Told in a haunting dialogue between past and present, Marlena is the captivating story of an intoxicating, indelible friendship that does not flinch from the resonant effects of its loss.
An electric debut novel about love, addiction, and loss; the story of two girls and the feral year that will cost one her life, and define the other's for decades
The gifted young writer Julie Buntin has written a novel of deep and exquisite intelligence, humour and riveting sensitivity. A terrific debut -- Lorrie Moore Julie Buntin captures that unique moment at the precipice of adulthood with emotional honesty and insight. She writes the kind of piercing, revelatory sentences you have to read to whomever is near, sentences you find yourself remembering years later -- Jonathan Safran Foer [A] vivid debut. . . .Buntin's prose is emotional and immediate, and the interior lives she draws of young women and obsessive best friends are Ferrante-esque * Booklist * Sensitive and smart and arrestingly beautiful, makes coming-of-age stories feel both urgent and new. It could so easily be cliched or sentimental. It is neither. Buntin creates a world so subtle and nuanced and alive that it imprints like a memory. Devastating; as unforgettable as it is gorgeous. * Kirkus * One of this year's buzziest debuts * Vogue * Smart, sassy, sexy * Red * Marlena felt urgent and alive. It's shocking and disturbing, but its depiction of an intense, obsessive friendship felt nuanced and heartbreakingly real. * Stylist * In Marlena, Julie Buntin revitalizes a classic story making it all her own with sensuous, vibrant prose and a narrator who feels deeply even as she feints certain painful truths about herself. In these pages I not only saw my own story, I came to understand it better. Many readers will too. This is a fierce and gorgeous debut -- Edan Lepucki, bestselling author of California Marlena slayed me. Gorgeously written, with a sense of place so perfect I didn't even have to close my eyes to pretend I was there, this novel is rich and sensuous and beautifully conceived. Buntin writes about the all-consuming bond between teenage girls with urgency and suspense and despair. I loved every word -- Anton DiSclafani, bestselling author of The After Party and The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls Mesmerizing . . . an indelible portrait of friendship, the power of influence and the kind of regret that can last a lifetime * Harpers Bazaar * Buntin's prose crackles like static electricity . . . she explores addiction and loss with poetic tenderness * New York Observer * Beautifully descriptive . . . This generous, sensitive novel of true feeling is at its most moving when it sweeps you up . . . a painful exorcism and a devoted memorial to friends and selves who are gone * New York Times Book Review *
Julie Buntin is from northern Michigan. She attended NYU's MFA program in fiction, where she was an adjunct instructor and the recipient of a Starworks Fellowship. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Cosmopolitan, O,The Oprah Magazine, Bustle, Slate, Electric Literature, and One Teen Story, among other publications. She teaches fiction writing at Marymount Manhattan College, and is the Director of Writing Programs at Catapult. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.