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.
Tucker astonishes in her devastating debut, a harrowing account of addiction, friendship, and loss. Irene, an isolated 19-year-old in rural North Carolina, meets Luce, a fellow server at a grimy pool hall. They form an intimate friendship that becomes nearly addictive: within hours of their meeting, Irene believes Luce "understood me better than anyone, maybe even my own mother." Both also battle an opiate addiction. They look at the moon and see an OxyContin pill, "a giant 30 just waiting for someone to reach up and snatch it." Throughout, they find themselves in scenarios that are equal parts devastating and funny, as they scam and grift to fund their pill habit by committing return fraud at Walmart and selling placebos from their birth control packs to college kids. But their bond begins to break after Luce meets Wilky, a sergeant at the nearby military base who is set on getting clean from a pill addiction of his own and moving with Luce to Florida for a fresh start. Tucker does a wonderful job locating Irene's and Luce's desire to live a better life beneath their tough exteriors, as when, while buying pills from an old woman, Irene offhandedly remarks, "Bodies are such fragile things." This keen awareness consistently adds depth and devastation. No matter the characters' genuine longing to change, they are bound to their cyclical, unrelenting patterns. This is a stunning accomplishment.
I was drawn in from the first page. This author does an amazing job of drawing the picture for this story, and I was tuned in every step of the way