Marlena by Julie Buntin

Marlena by Julie Buntin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I couldn’t put this one down. It’s told from the perspective of an adult woman remembering her high school best friend, Marlena, who died as a teenager. I related so much to the characters, the town, and their situation. It’s not just about friendship, but it’s also about class, poverty, and addiction.

There is something so intensely emotional about teenaged female friendships that can become more impactful than our first romantic relationships. These friendships can be high drama and bounce between infatuation and hate. The protagonist gives us that view of Marlena. We see Marlena as both fantastic and horrible, and because she dies young, she remains stuck in our protagonist’s memory as that magical creature.

I found the writing as contrary as the character Marlena. Sometimes, it felt journalistic in its realistic portrayal of bored, poor, and reckless small-town kids, but there were a few places where the plot didn’t quite add up (in my mind). It was well worth the read, though.

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