I didn’t read Marlena by Julie Buntin but this is what the description is:
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 is quickly drawn into Marlena’s orbit and as she catalogues a litany of firsts—first drink, first cigarette, first kiss, first pill—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 again to move on, even as the memory of Marlena calls her back.
I know the whole “Girl meet boy in new town” story is overdone but also, the boring girl meets ~crazy girl story is overdone af and honestly, as the self-described “Crazy Girl,” it’s more than a little offensive, ESPECIALLY when the “manic, beautiful, pill-popping” girl irrevocably ends up dead. I happen to be manic, beautiful and pill-popping!!!!! Granted, those pills are prescription but still. Like is that honestly all that girls like me are good for? To die a painful death because we have the gall to beautiful, mentally ill, and to desire more from life than a boring suburban existence? I hate it so much and I see it ALL the time in books that are targeted to young women.
I understand that most of the audience that reads these books identifies with the so-called Cat, who is far more staid and well, unremarkable than Marlena, but as somebody that instinctively identifies with Marlena, these books just feel offensive and really unfair! Like, all I want is stories where I’m represented not as a dead girl, where I’m allowed to survive and thrive despite the state of my mind. Is that too much to ask?