Author: Karen Tucker
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publication Date: June 1, 2021
Book Description: Set in rural, poverty-stricken North Carolina, this “beautiful, gritty, and piercing” novel follows two young women—best friends—as they “journey through the highs and lows of friendship, love, and addiction,” perfect for readers of Julie Buntin’s Marlena (Erika Carter, author of Lucky You).
Irene, a lonely nineteen-year-old in rural North Carolina, works long nights at the local pool hall, serving pitchers and dodging drunks. One evening, her hilarious, magnetic coworker Luce invites her on a joy ride through the mountains to take revenge on a particularly creepy customer. Their adventure not only spells the beginning of a dazzling friendship, it seduces both girls into the mysterious world of pills and the endless hustles needed to fund the next high.
Together, Irene and Luce run nickel-tossing scams at the county fair and trick dealers into trading legit pharms for birth-control pills. Everything is wild and wonderful until Luce finds a boyfriend who wants to help her get clean. Soon the two of them decide to move away and start a new, sober life in Florida—leaving Irene behind.
Told in a riveting dialogue between the girls’ addicted past and their hopes for a better future, Bewilderness is not just a brilliant, funny, heartbreaking novel about opioid abuse, it’s also a moving look at how intense, intimate friendships can shape every young woman’s life.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review: This debut novel from Karen Tucker takes on two women dealing with Opioid addition. Luce and Irene, have been friends for years. They met as addicts, and they cleaned up their act together. Luce has made the hard decision to move to Florida with her boyfriend, who OD’s the night before they are supposed to leave. What Tucker, writes is about the spiraling of these two women.
Irene is our narrator in this story, and she loves Luce and wants to protect her as much as possible. She continues to be put in impossible positions in the story. Told from two timelines, one after the OD and one at the start of Irene and Luce’s friendship.
I personally do not have much personal experience with the Opioid crisis, except from what I see on the news, and the documentaries that I have watched. However, it appears to me Karen Tucker took a lot of care to write this story. She does not make this story pretty in any light, but immerses the reader in the world of addiction, and how it affects everyone.
This is a beautiful, impactful book that I would highly recommend to readers, who want immerse themselves in this history making epidemic.
Thank you NetGalley and Catapult Books for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.