- Title: Marlena
- Author: Julie Buntin
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Structure: Linear first-person with varying time perspectives
- First Line: “Tell me what you can’t forget, and I’ll tell you who you are.”
The good is great. I’ll summarize for you in my usual five points. There’s more than these five points, but I think these are great starters.
- The writing is superb. There was almost a poetry about it. I truly felt like I was reading a work of art, not just a book. It’s written in a way that you feel like you’re right inside the narrator’s head. Nothing gets left unsaid. They’re real and raw thoughts from the narrator’s perspective. I was honestly shocked that this is a debut novel because, usually, the writing isn’t this good when it’s someone’s first book. I really hope Julie Buntin comes out with more and soon!
- There were many good lines in the book that I had to stop and write down. You know those books where you’re like, “Whoa, that spoke a truth”? Yup, this is definitely one.
- I think Buntin did an amazing job at displaying poverty in the US and addictions. There seems to be two main addictions: drug and alcohol. I think she hit the nail on the head with both.
- Now, on a more controversial note, I like the storyline. There are some who weren’t that over the moon about it. But, I like it because I think there are a lot of relatable moments for everyone, regardless of your upbringing, financial status, or whether or not you were involved in anything about drugs, alcohol, and the like.
- Lastly, this book is a very quick read. Whenever you receive books from Book of the Month Club, the judge who picked the book writes a little note as to why they picked it. Mine said, “This is easily one of those read-in-one-sitting books, but I encourage you to take it slower and savor Buntin’s expert depiction of an intoxicating young friendship”. I slowed down my pace because of that suggestion, but it was so good, that I just kept picking it back up again!
One of the things that bothered me while reading is that time-wise, it didn’t seem like things added up. There was a mention in the book how Facebook was just starting, which would tag the flashbacks of the past at 2004/2005. However, when you hear the narrator speaking in the present day, it’s 18 years from past events, which would place the year as 2022/2023. This could be exactly what the author meant, but it struck me as odd and inconsistent.
I will also note that it does get graphic in some places (not too graphic, but enough where you might not want anyone under high school age reading it). I don’t consider graphic content to be “bad”, but I do want to put that disclaimer out there for any parents.
THE SWEET SPOTS
In this section, I cover some of my deeper, personal thoughts. Books are meant to make you think. I always think the best books are the ones that help you discover pieces of yourself.
- Did this book remind you of anything that has happened to you?: Both of the main female protagonists struggle with absentee fathers: one of the dad’s is a drug addict and neglects his children, the other ran off with a different wife and forgot his kids. I would say my experience was of the latter variety of fathers. And, I truly hate to say it, I don’t think I’m a “rare breed”; I think there are many people that can relate to having disappointing and disappearing dads.
- Did this book give you any new ideas of yourself?: I realized I was judging the characters a lot because of their struggles with drugs. I lived in a completely different world than these characters. I always knew that world existed on some level, but it almost seemed like a fairytale instead of a real-life trap people struggle with.
- What lesson did you learn?: People-pleasing will only get you so far, and it will drag you through the mud. Feeling your emotions full force is a scary thing to face, but in the end, it’s always the better option. Your friends become your family, and your family shapes your life, your future, and who you fundamentally are, so choose your friends wisely.
This book just came out this year. I think it should be on everyone’s list to read! It’s a quick read that you can probably do in a day, but if you see my note on point #5, then you may not want to. I think we’re going to be seeing this book around a lot in the future. If anything, read it because the writing is phenomenal. You are absolutely not going to want to miss this book!
GET YOUR COPY HERE!
I received Marlena from the Book of the Month Club for March 2017. It was so great to receive personalized book recommendations at my doorstep! Honestly, I’m not sure if I would’ve picked up and experienced Marlena if it wasn’t for BOTM. You can join the club here for under $20 a month!
*Thank you Book of the Month Club for sponsoring this. All opinions are my own.