Literary Fiction


by Julie Buntin

We’re happy to support debut authors, including Julie Buntin with Marlena.

Quick take

Buntin taps into something authentic, a core nugget so true that it feels like, in reading this novel, Marlena happened to me.

Why I love it

There is something compelling about certain teenage female friendships. The intensity that can rival a great romance. The desperate loyalty, the inexplicable need to pour your every secret into your friend vessel. The mutual adoration that’s near-sexual. Perhaps because, beyond 'œboyfriend' or 'œgirlfriend,' the nebulous shape of a best friendship requires more guarding and defending and is ther...

Member thoughts

35% Love
51% Like
12% Dislike
  • Therese L.

    Albuquerque, NM

    "This book was so well written and interesting! I really liked the characters...they were beautifully drawn and believable. I so look forward to Julie Buntin's next book. She is someone to follow."

  • Jacob O.

    Omaha, NE

    "Well written with an interesting narrative style and a very thoughtful insight into the struggles of poverty."

  • Veronica H.

    Edinburg, TX

    "Page turner! I loved this book!!"

  • Sara P.

    Cincinnati , OH

    "Excellent, especially the raw, often painful, sometimes pleasant self awareness of the narrator's retrospect. "

  • Regan T.

    Dayton, KY

    "Loved this book. Cat was an amazing character. What a crazy world for her to have gotten involved in."

  • Emily B.

    McKinney , TX

    "I am a sucker for a book about female friendships, even (or especially) toxic and tragic female friendships. This one rang all my bells!"

  • Jessica A.

    Woodstock, GA

    "Well written book! Marlena leaps off the page in all her glory as Cat shares with us the tragedy of her best friend's life. "

  • Ashley A.

    Athol, MA

    "This book brought me back to my teen and college years hanging around wrong crowds but pulling out before I got to deep in. I can relate so much to Cat having known a few Marlena's in my day."

  • Amelia P.

    Brighton , MA

    "It's easy to ignore the things that scare us, the things that would be too hard to confront. And sometimes that's dangerous. Marlena is a beautiful, heartbreaker of a book and I loved reading it. "

  • Abbey P.

    Addison, TX

    "The writing style was at times confusing, but the look into young lives growing up in rural poverty was invaluable. The fact that Marlena believed her life was a sentence is a reality for many. "

  • Stacy L.

    Los Angeles, CA

    "Really enjoyed this book. Felt an array of feelings for Marlena, but ultimately just felt sad for her. Want to know more about Cat's life in NYC!"