Burning Out Marlena


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She makes me want to write. It's funny: I put this down after 3 or 4 pages when I started reading it. I felt like it was going to be bleak, and I wasn't sure I could face it. Don't make the same mistake I did. View all 8 comments. Feb 22, Larry H rated it really liked it Shelves: netgalley. Not because of any particular plot point or because the lyrics are symbolic, just because there is a Marlena in the book and one, two, three Marlenas in the song. I'm deep like that. Like the more I say, the further from the truth of her I get.

I'm trying to hold palmfuls of sand but I squeeze harder, I tighten my fist, and the quicker it all escapes. Cat has to leave her private school, her best friend, and the sense of security she had, plus she'll be moving away from her father, and although he hasn't been attentive since moving in with his much younger girlfriend, she knows she'll miss him. No one is bargaining for the somewhat rundown house they move into, nor do they expect to be amidst trailer homes and other decrepit homes, where it appears less-than-upstanding activities are taking place.

But the bright spot for Cat is meeting Marlena, her next door neighbor. Marlena is two years older, worldly where Cat has been sheltered, bold and brazen where Cat is shy, and when they meet, she is already in the throes of addiction to pills of all kinds, but she generally manages to keep her life together on a day-to-day basis. Before long, Cat and Marlena are mostly inseparable, although she must navigate Marlena's mood swings and the fear of her unstable father. But with Marlena, Cat also gets to experience many firsts—first kiss, first drink, first cigarette, first time skipping school—and feels like she finally is part of something, even if at times it leaves her unsteady and uncertain.

But despite the emotional roller coaster of their relationship, and Cat's recognition that Marlena's behavior is, ultimately, dangerous, she is still unprepared for Marlena's death less than a year later. This book is told from two perspectives—Cat unfolding the story of her relationship with Marlena and all that occurred during that tumultuous time in Silver Lake, and Cat as an adult, decades later, when the appearance of a ghost from her past causes her to revisit the emotions and the regrets, not to mention the addictions she still lives with all those years later.

For the first time, she might have to acknowledge just how profound an effect Marlena had on her life, and in some ways, still does. It's between me and her, what I saw and what she saw and how I see it now and how she has no now. Divide it further—between what I mean and what I say, who I am and who I appear to be, who she said she was and acted like she was and also, of course, who she really was, in all her glorious complexity, all her unknowable Marlena-ness, all her secrets.

Marlena is a gripping, emotional account of just how much our lives are affected by those we're closest to when we're younger, and the blessings and the scars of those relationships live on with us well into adulthood.

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This is a story of young woman trying to hold her own in a relationship that both made her feel special and inadequate, and a woman years later whose life is still shaped by those days, the decisions she made and those she regrets. Buntin does a terrific job capturing the power dynamics of adolescent friendships, and the after-effects felt long afterward. She's a great storyteller, and this book is packed with emotion, imagery, and lots of instances in which you want to smack the characters for not confronting the issues they see in front of them.

Marlena isn't a perfect book; at times the pacing moved a little slower than I would have liked, and at times Cat alludes to things that happen in the future but I would have liked to understand what led up to some of those instances rather than just be told what happened. But Buntin's use of language and emotion transcends the book's flaws, and definitely keeps you thinking about these characters, even if you've seen them before. Thanks for making this available! View all 18 comments. Cat and her brother Jimmy relocate with their mother to a rural town in Northern Michigan.

With her parents recent divorce she is no longer able to attend her private boarding school. She feels very isolated living away from the support of her father and friends. After the move, a friendship develops between Cat and her new neighbor Marlena. Cat is fifteen, impressionable and has lived a sheltered life. Marlena is streetwise and was raised by her drug dealing father and brother.

She experiments with drinking, smoking, and cutting school while her mother copes with her own problems. This is a wonderful debut novel by Julie Buntin. It is a gritty and emotional story of a deep friendship formed during adolescence. The author brings back all the overwhelming feelings developed in our teens. It is amazing that we sometimes cannot remember what we had for dinner two nights ago, but we can recall the friendships and activities from our formative years.

View all 6 comments. But back where? To the moment before I tasted alcohol, to virginity and not really knowing that things die, back to believing that something great is still up ahead, back to before I made the choices that would hem me in to the life I live now.


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A life that I regret sometimes, I think, only because it's mine, because it's turned out this way and not some other way, because I can't go back and change what will happen. What happened to her. Reeeeeeeally dark. Ca "I want to go back. Catherine Cat has moved to Silver Lake with her mum and brother after her parents divorce; she is quickly befriended by her exciting, off-the-rails, tearaway neighbour Marlena. Pretty soon Cat is swept up into a world of drink, drugs, skipping school and petty crimes.

She knows Marlena isn't well; there's a difference between getting fucked up for a laugh and being permanently fucked up. To the point where she has nervous breakdowns when her pill supply gets low. We know from the beginning that Marlena dies. We get a POV of Cat as a teenager, going through all the drama and issues that come with being Marlena's best friend, in a town where the gap between rich and poor is huge, and boredom drives these kids to extremes.

The second POV is Cat as an adult, she is married, but scarred from her past experiences and struggles with a drinking problem.

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I think what helps set this story apart from other "toxic friendship" stories is that we get this seperate perspective. Cat can view her younger self and realise just how naive she was, how stupid some of her decisions were. All you have is what you remember. A fraction; less.

It is like watching a car crash, I couldn't look away. Marlena's tale serves as a powerful warning about drug use, and how the poorest of communities are hit the worst. Driving its sufferers manic with longing. Acute melancholy, but specific to an object or place. View all 3 comments. This takes her back to when she was fifteen, her parents divorced, moved to a new town in rural Michigan with her mom and older brother, worried about fitting in this new life. One night she meets her next door neighbor, Marlena, seventeen and she is so different, seemingly full of life, exciting and against all odds th '3.

One night she meets her next door neighbor, Marlena, seventeen and she is so different, seemingly full of life, exciting and against all odds they become friends. This friendship ends in a big tragedy but the effects of this friendship are long reaching and vividly remembered. An intense friendship, as only those made at that age can be, I so remember this time in my own life.

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Marlena's life seems exhilarating to Cat, but under the layers it is anything but, full of drugs, sex and things Cat doesn't understand until the end. This is a dark book, intense at times and one can't help but feel for this young girl who lives this life, cannot envision another, sees no way out. Things that happen in the past, at a time of life when everything seems so dramatic, open ended for some, I could and did identify with this story.

It jumps back and forth, from the past to Cat's life now and of course the past story was the most effective. It is beautifully written, but devastating, tragic. How many of is wish we could go back and change things, either for ourselves or for someone we cared about? Understood the full impact of what another person was going through? As Cat thinks, " Who can recognize the ending as it's happening.

What we live, it seems to me, is pretty much always a surprise. View all 15 comments. Mar 29, Laura rated it it was ok Shelves: contemporary , read-in I certainly love a story about an intoxicating female friendship, those that venture into coming-of-age territory.

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Books where a friendship maybe causes a young girl to go completely off the tracks. I enjoy the psychology of it. This one does the thing I enjoyed most about The Girls by: Emma Cline , which is include the use of a retrospective narrator. The thing is What is fascinating is how you know the narrator is deeply affected by this time of their youth. She is looking back wistfully on the past, on a time filled with regrets.

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As an adult she can view her friendship in a more honest way for what it was, when as a teenager it was an all-consuming friendship that may have caused Cat to spiral a bit. Marlena is from a very different world than Cat. It's not that she is two years older.. Addiction, overly-sexualized, living in poverty without a mother.

From the beginning we know Marlena's days are numbered. This isn't a mystery, though. While we know Marlena dies, we even find out how early on. I thought there may be a twist surrounding the death, but I was wrong. Expecting that will only harm the reading experience because you'll feel letdown. That's not the point to this story. The point of Cat looking back on this time is Marlena's younger brother having called to meet up with Cat. She knew him when he was a child sparking her recollection of the friendship with his sister.

This didn't exactly feel necessary. It never went anywhere and ultimately felt like a waste of time. The prose got to be too much at times.

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