"A thrilling and important examination of female adolescent friendship... “Marlena’’ feels timeless, its vivid characters suspended in the difficult moment of awakening just before adulthood. It is a gem of a book, brief and urgent, nearly perfect in its execution... Buntin’s prose is elaborately descriptive, sometimes invoking physical sensations in the reader." –Boston Globe
"At the center of Julie Buntin’s debut novel is the kind of coming-of-age friendship that goes beyond camaraderie, into a deeper bond that forges identity; it’s friendship as a creative act, a collaborative work of imagination. . .This generous, sensitive novel of true feeling. . . sweeps you up without too much explication, becoming both a painful exorcism and a devoted memorial to friends and selves who are gone." –New York Times Book Review
"Excellent....a wild, gorgeous evocation of the wildness and gorgeousness of youth... This longing makes itself felt in the novel’s many lyrical passages, an intense shimmering that recalls Jeffrey Eugenides’ “The Virgin Suicides” (also set in Michigan) and Marilynne Robinson’s “Housekeeping” (alluded to by Cat). If Marlena has one foot in the world of Midwestern realism, then it has another in the world of visionary fiction... [Buntin’s] lyricism is precise and revelatory, capable of great beauty and, when called for, great ugliness. Marlena is a novel about youth—a time of splendor and squalor. Buntin make us see, hear and feel both." –San Francisco Chronicle
"It's still so early in 2017 that calling something a best debut novel of the year is a dicey thing to try and do. But if the Lorrie Moore blurb on the front cover doesn't tip you off that Julie Buntin's Marlena is a book you should be paying attention to, the fact that the author created something that could easily be called the millennial Midwestern version of the celebrated Elena Ferrante Neapolitan Novels crossed with Robin Wasserman's great Girls on Fire, should do the trick." –Rolling Stone
"Standout debut novel... Like Ferrante and Smith, Buntin is attuned to the way in which adolescent friends embolden and betray."–Vogue, "Girls on the Verge"
"Sensitive and smart and arrestingly beautiful, debut novelist Buntin's tale of the friendship between two girls in the woods of Northern Michigan makes coming-of-age stories feel both urgent and new... Jumping between their teenage friendship in Michigan and Cat’s adult life in New York City, Buntin creates a world so subtle and nuanced and alive that it imprints like a memory. Devastating; as unforgettable as it is gorgeous." –Kirkus, starred review
"In this deeply affecting and keenly astute debut novel, Buntin exposes the defining moments of adolescence, with its complicated entanglements, and how they haunt even the survivors." –The Los Angeles Times
"Buntin's prose is emotional and immediate, and the interior lives she draws of young women and obsessive best friends are Ferrante-esque."–Booklist, starred review
"Stunning first novel... Buntin perfectly captures a burning and essential friendship with lasting consequences and that terrible moment when we make a wrong turn and can’t go back. An exceptional portrait, disturbing and precisely observed; highly recommended."–Library Journal, starred review
"As the friendship between stable Cat and rebellious Marlena unfolds, it'll shock you...and remind you of that bestie your parents always side-eyed."–Cosmopolitan
"Gorgeous, knowing debut."–Marie Claire
"From its brilliant opening sentence, “Tell me what you can’t forget, and I’ll tell you who you are,” Julie Buntin’s debut novel creates a hauntingly original atmosphere for a familiar story...An unforgettable portrait of teenage confusion and experimentation."–Bookpage
"Stunning debut... stellar first novel... Buntin captures the agony, ecstasy, and lasting impact of adolescent friendship." –Real Simple
"Mesmerizing debut... Buntin weaves an indelible portrait of friendship, the power of influence and the kind of regret that can last a lifetime." –Harper's Bazaar
"Brilliant...Marlena so perfectly captures the bottomless need and desire of teenage girls and the reckless abandon with which they lives their lives...If you've ever been a teenage girl who loved and lived a little too hard for your own good, Marlena will resonate on a cellular level." –Nylon
"Magnetic first novel..." –Vogue
"A vivid portrait of a friendship between two teen girls in a troubled community that captures the heartaches of adolescence...At every turn, Buntin’s prose flows with the easy, confident rhythms of an accomplished writer, and though there’s really no mystery in the narrative, it reads nearly as compulsively as a thriller...The tale of two friends, one who succeeds and one who fails, isn’t new ― it’s the entire focus of Elena Ferrante’s wildly popular Neapolitan books. But it remains fascinating nonetheless, especially in Buntin’s capable hands. " –Huffington Post
"This is the page-turner for anyone who is still not over Emma Cline’s The Girls. Buntin’s debut is the story of bored fifteen-year-old Cat, who meets the pill-popping, magnetic Marlena. Addiction and drama duly follows. The story pulls and pushes you around, not unlike your own teenaged emotions, hopes, and dreams did. Expect a roller coaster."–Coveteur
Esquire, "Best Books of 2017 (So Far)"
Harper's Bazaar, "16 Best Books of 2017 (So Far)"
Harper's Bazaar, "#THELIST:14 New Books You Need to Read in April"
Publishers Weekly, "Writers to Watch Spring 2017: Anticipated Debuts"
Entertainment Weekly, "16 debut novels to read in 2017"
Elle Magazine, "The 25 Most Anticipated Books by Women for 2017"
Redbook, "20 Must-Read Books for Spring 2017"
Huffington Post, "2017 Book Preview"
Boston Globe, "The books we can't wait to read in 2017"
Chicago Tribune, "34 books we're excited about in 2017"
The Millions, "Most Anticipated: The Great 2017 Book Preview"
The Week, "28 books to read in 2017"