Julie Buntin. Holt, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-1-62779-764-1
In her impressive debut novel, Buntin displays a remarkable control of tone and narrative arc. In a keenly observed study of teenage character, narrator Catherine, 15, is miserable in the ramshackle house her newly divorced mother has bought in the dismal town of Silver Lake in northern Michigan. When she meets Marlena, her glamorous 17-year-old next-door neighbor, Cat is smitten with the euphoria of having a best friend. Buntin is particularly sensitive to the misery of adolescent angst, and Cat’s growing happiness in Marlena’s friendship runs like an electric wire through the narrative. Marlena is dangerous, however: she runs with a bad crowd, and her father cooks meth. From the beginning, we know that Marlena is irresistible, reckless, and brave; she’s a mother substitute for her forlorn younger brother—musically talented, beautiful, and doomed to die young. It’s only later that Cat understands that Marlena is the needy one in their relationship. Her bravado hides desperation; she fears she’ll never get out of Silver Lake, that she has no future, and that “there were kids like us all over rural America.” Almost 20 years later, living in New York with her husband and working at a good job, Cat is still damaged by losing Marlena. Crippled by “the pain at the utter core of me,” she takes refuge in alcohol and memories. The novel is poignant and unforgettable, a sustained eulogy for Marlena’s “glow... that lives in lost things, that sets apart the gone forever.” Agent: Claudia Ballard, WME Entertainment. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 11/14/2016
Release date: 04/04/2017
Ebook - 978-1-62779-763-4
MP3 CD - 978-1-5047-7754-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-5047-7753-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-5047-7752-0
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-250-16015-7
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