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Extended Audio Sample Marlena Audiobook, by Julie Buntin Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Julie Buntin Narrator: Emma Galvin Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2017 ISBN: 9781504777551
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An electric debut novel about love, addiction, and loss; the story of two girls and the feral year that will cost one her life, and define the other’s for decades

Everything about fifteen-year-old Cat’s new town in rural Michigan is lonely and off-kilter, until she meets her neighbor, the manic, beautiful, pill-popping Marlena. Cat, inexperienced and desperate for connection, is quickly lured into Marlena’s orbit by little more than an arched eyebrow and a shake of white-blond hair.

As the two girls turn the untamed landscape of their desolate small town into a kind of playground, Cat catalogues a litany of firsts—first drink, first cigarette, first kiss—while Marlena’s habits harden and calcify. Within the year, Marlena is dead, drowned in six inches of icy water in the woods nearby.

Now, decades later, when a ghost from that pivotal year surfaces unexpectedly, Cat must try to forgive herself and move on, even as the memory of Marlena keeps her tangled in the past.

Alive with an urgent, unshakable tenderness, Julie Buntin’s Marlena is an unforgettable look at the people who shape us beyond reason and the ways it might be possible to pull oneself back from the brink.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A novel of deep and exquisite intelligence, humor, and riveting sensitivity.”

    Lorrie Moore, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Captures that unique moment at the precipice of adulthood with emotional honesty and insight.”

    Jonathan Safran Foer, New York Times bestselling author

  • “In this icy and accomplished first novel, the intoxicating friendship between an inexperienced loner and her manic, wild-child neighbor continues to exert an irresistible pull on our narrator decades later.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “The telling is so intimate that one can miss, at first, that Marlena is addicted to the pills she carries around…The book is ostensibly about friendship and the indelible mark the troubled Marlena left on Cat, but it is also a quiet, powerful look at addiction.”

    New York Times

  • “Cannily interweaves two different time frames to capture an electric friendship and its legacy.


  • “The kind of coming-of-age friendship that goes beyond camaraderie, into a deeper bond that forges identity.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A novel about youth―a time of splendor and squalor. Buntin make us see, hear, and feel both."

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Reads nearly as compulsively as a thriller…Viscerally captures the sensations and heartaches of adolescence.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Poignant and unforgettable.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Sensitive and smart and arrestingly beautiful…Buntin creates a world so subtle and nuanced and alive that it imprints like a memory. Devastating; as unforgettable as it is gorgeous.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Buntin’s prose is emotional and immediate, and the interior lives she draws of young women and obsessive best friends are Ferrante-esque.”


  • “This gorgeous, assured debut captures the romance of young friendship, cutting deep with the finest touch.”

    Julia Pierpont, author of Among the Ten Thousand Things

  • An Elle Magazine Pick of 25 Most Anticipated Books by Women for 2017
  • A Publishers Weekly Pick of Writers to Watch, Spring 2017 Debuts
  • A BuzzFeed Books Pick of Incredible New Books to Read This Spring
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month for April 2017
  • An Entertainment Weekly Pick for April 2017
  • A BookPage Book of the Day Selection
  • An Oprah’s Book Club Selection
  • A Barnes & Noble Discover Award Winner
  • A Nylon Magazine Pick
  • An Indie Next List Selection
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About the Author

Julie Buntin is from northern Michigan. Her work has appeared in the Atlantic; Cosmopolitan; O, The Oprah Magazine; Slate; Electric Literature; and One Teen Story, among other publications. She teaches fiction writing at Marymount Manhattan College, and is the director of writing programs at Catapult. She lives in Brooklyn.

About the Narrator

Emma Galvin won the 2011 Audie Award for best fiction narration, was a finalist for the Audie Award in 2012, and won six AudioFile Earphones Awards for her narrations. A graduate of the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, her film appearances include My Suicidal Sweetheart, A Perfect Fit, and The Big Bad Swim. She has performed in several regional theater productions, including Love Punky, The Power of Birds, and The Realm.