Marlena by Julie Buntin
While I do believe that Marlena might be most appreciated by those who understand what it's like to have endured childhood either un-parented or underparented, there's no doubt that author Buntin, in her exquisite debut novel, has captured the life of rural teenagers.
Having experienced a combination of all of these elements, I found myself uniquely captivated by the relationship of Cat and Marlena, as well as their relationships with their youthful cohorts and several irresponsible adults, and Buntin's prose is delightful.
One of the elements I love the most is that of Cat sharing her experiences, and this story, later in life; she has been able to gain some distance from her relationship with Marlena, her adolescence, and reframe it in a way that has helped her move forward...but there are certainly parts of the story that continue to hold her back.
In the end, it's the decisions that are made, and connections formed, during this time of our lives that often shape what is to come in the future. Even though Cat acknowledges this, she is also forced to acknowledge the pain she has lived with every day, thanks to the power of her connection with Marlena.
A beautifully-written drama, I thoroughly enjoyed this debut from my list of Top Ten 2017 Debut Novels; if this sounds like a story you can relate to, I definitely recommend that you give it a try.