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Set in rural, poverty-stricken North Carolina, this funny, painful, and very wise novel follows two young women—best friends—as they struggle to free themselves from opioid addiction, perfect for readers of Julie Buntin's Marlena . Irene, a lonely nineteen-year-old in rural North Carolina, works long nights at the local pool hall, serving pitchers and dodging drunks. One Set in rural, poverty-stricken North Carolina, this funny, painful, and very wise novel follows two young women—best friends—as they struggle to free themselves from opioid addiction, perfect for readers of Julie Buntin's Marlena . 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.


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Set in rural, poverty-stricken North Carolina, this funny, painful, and very wise novel follows two young women—best friends—as they struggle to free themselves from opioid addiction, perfect for readers of Julie Buntin's Marlena . Irene, a lonely nineteen-year-old in rural North Carolina, works long nights at the local pool hall, serving pitchers and dodging drunks. One Set in rural, poverty-stricken North Carolina, this funny, painful, and very wise novel follows two young women—best friends—as they struggle to free themselves from opioid addiction, perfect for readers of Julie Buntin's Marlena . 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.

30 review for Bewilderness

  1. 5 out of 5

    Farrah (on a short hiatus!)

    BEWILDERNESS is a very honest and hard-hit ting look at opioid addiction in Small Town, America. When the book starts, best friends Irene and Luce have been clean for a significant amount of time. But after tragedy strikes, their lives begin to spiral down towards old habits and temptations. Mixed throughout the story are flashbacks that show the hardships they endured to get to where they are now. It's an amazing look at their friendship. They definitely love and support each other but addictio BEWILDERNESS is a very honest and hard-hit ting look at opioid addiction in Small Town, America. When the book starts, best friends Irene and Luce have been clean for a significant amount of time. But after tragedy strikes, their lives begin to spiral down towards old habits and temptations. Mixed throughout the story are flashbacks that show the hardships they endured to get to where they are now. It's an amazing look at their friendship. They definitely love and support each other but addiction also makes them co-dependant and enablers. It's entirely narrated by Irene and the author does a fantastic job of subtly showing how her POV is influenced by her addiction and that other characters can see things more clearly. Another thing I really like about this book is that it doesn't glamorize drug use at all. There's no wild parties or adventures where everyone is having fun getting high. Instead BEWILDERNESS keeps it real. *thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the advance copy. Due for release June 1st.

  2. 4 out of 5

    ʚϊɞ Shelley's ʚϊɞ Book Nook

    Some books you read, other books you experience. This is one you experience. Karen Tucker has a natural feel for setting and characterization. Rather than describing the surroundings to me, she picked me up and put me there. The characters came alive, displaying all the quirks of real people. I felt what it was like to live in poverty, with these people who call rural North Carolina their home. The dialogue is also masterful. Characters all have unique voices, both in word choices a Some books you read, other books you experience. This is one you experience. Karen Tucker has a natural feel for setting and characterization. Rather than describing the surroundings to me, she picked me up and put me there. The characters came alive, displaying all the quirks of real people. I felt what it was like to live in poverty, with these people who call rural North Carolina their home. The dialogue is also masterful. Characters all have unique voices, both in word choices and in the rhythm of their speech. Conversations feel natural, never forced for the purposes of the story. It's hard to believe this is a first novel. I fully enjoyed the author's writing style, read this in one sitting and I'm looking forward to reading more of her work. All. The. Stars. Disclosure: Thank you NetGalley, Karen Tucker and Catapult for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own. #Bewilderness #NetGalley

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    I read this off and on yesterday finishing late at night, and then I couldn’t shake it and didn’t feel like going to sleep, so I watched one of those true crime shows about a woman who had her throat sawed open and doused in Pine Sol. Somehow, this took the edge off the book a little and then I went to bed. It’s that good, and that ugly, and that hopeless. Don’t let this next bit deter you from reading it, but it’s a little bit as if Ottessa Moshfegh's distant stepsister tried her hand at Southe I read this off and on yesterday finishing late at night, and then I couldn’t shake it and didn’t feel like going to sleep, so I watched one of those true crime shows about a woman who had her throat sawed open and doused in Pine Sol. Somehow, this took the edge off the book a little and then I went to bed. It’s that good, and that ugly, and that hopeless. Don’t let this next bit deter you from reading it, but it’s a little bit as if Ottessa Moshfegh's distant stepsister tried her hand at Southern Gothic. Well, maybe not, it’s nothing like that, but this is something truly brutal and truly dark, and also funny, so I’m not really sure how to describe it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    A story about female friendship and drug addiction inside the "opioid crisis" in rural NC, the author does a good job showing how people can keep you pulled in to using, and back in, how people who use are taken advantage of instead of helped, how difficult it is to move past it. I would say if you have a past with addiction this is not the book for you as it portrays drug use cover to cover. I had to look a few things up because I'm not super familiar with the terminology. Irene and Luce are me A story about female friendship and drug addiction inside the "opioid crisis" in rural NC, the author does a good job showing how people can keep you pulled in to using, and back in, how people who use are taken advantage of instead of helped, how difficult it is to move past it. I would say if you have a past with addiction this is not the book for you as it portrays drug use cover to cover. I had to look a few things up because I'm not super familiar with the terminology. Irene and Luce are memorable characters, alongside some of the minor characters like Wilky and Nogales. There is one moment where Irene does something for her friend that is the absolutely wrong thing but you can completely see why she does it - it is an agonizing subject with no clear answers. The author went to Warren Wilson and FSU, teaches at UNC, and name dropped some names I recognized in the back. I had a copy from the publisher.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Berkley McDaniel

    Karen Tucker just landed a solid literary gut-punch to my soul. As someone just shy of 6 years sober, this is, without a doubt, a novel that rings true. The highs are just high enough to make sense of it all (in the addicts mind). And the lows so low they scrape the resin off the foil and remind you why you best get out while you can. Written with a certain vulnerability and realism that allows the reader to walk along with Irene and Luce as things fall together and fall apart. Bewilderness is b Karen Tucker just landed a solid literary gut-punch to my soul. As someone just shy of 6 years sober, this is, without a doubt, a novel that rings true. The highs are just high enough to make sense of it all (in the addicts mind). And the lows so low they scrape the resin off the foil and remind you why you best get out while you can. Written with a certain vulnerability and realism that allows the reader to walk along with Irene and Luce as things fall together and fall apart. Bewilderness is beautifully realistic in its ability to strip away any thoughts of a glorified "drugstore cowboy" opioid mentality. A story that is sorely needed right now.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mallory

    this book hit me harder than i expected. the beginning was slow and i felt as if i had read the same story before--but after i got the chance to dive into the setting and Irene and Luce's friendship, i became more engrossed in what would happen to them. this book tackles the opioid epidemic in Appalachia in a haunting and beautiful way, and the storyline felt painfully familiar. i wish i could have heard even more about Irene's feelings for Luce, but i appreciated the beauty of this friendship. this book hit me harder than i expected. the beginning was slow and i felt as if i had read the same story before--but after i got the chance to dive into the setting and Irene and Luce's friendship, i became more engrossed in what would happen to them. this book tackles the opioid epidemic in Appalachia in a haunting and beautiful way, and the storyline felt painfully familiar. i wish i could have heard even more about Irene's feelings for Luce, but i appreciated the beauty of this friendship. this is a poignant story that might not be for everyone but certainly hits hard. thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with an ARC!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    I’ve got a bum neck. It had been bothersome for the majority of my life yet only recently diagnosed as something other than, well, a “bum neck.” First, an X-ray uncovered severe arthritis; my neurologist recommended physical therapy twice a week, a recommendation of which I stuck to as if it were gospel. In PT I made progress, regained mobility, curtailed my aches and pains to a manageable level. But soon things plateaued and the insufferable discomfort which prompted my doctors’ visits returned I’ve got a bum neck. It had been bothersome for the majority of my life yet only recently diagnosed as something other than, well, a “bum neck.” First, an X-ray uncovered severe arthritis; my neurologist recommended physical therapy twice a week, a recommendation of which I stuck to as if it were gospel. In PT I made progress, regained mobility, curtailed my aches and pains to a manageable level. But soon things plateaued and the insufferable discomfort which prompted my doctors’ visits returned. An MRI revealed something more significant than arthritis: a degenerative disc disease called foraminal stenosis. Per my physician I was to resume physical therapy but was also referred to another physician in another department for additional treatment. Such treatment was far more intense than popping a few ibuprofens and doing an hour’s worth of stretches each day; I was to start receiving spinal injections of a steroid designed to strengthen my weakening cervical canal. Sounds fun, right? It’s actually not that bad. Better still, it provides me far more relief than any Advil or neck rotation ever could – and for a more sustained period of time. I am thankful this treatment has worked, because one of the very first things I told the doctor who would be administering the shots was that I wanted to avoid two things: surgery and, perhaps most all, pills. It wasn’t the brochures highlighting the dangers of opioid use peppered throughout the clinic which provoked my adamancy. I was already well aware. I’d seen friends get hooked and had watched my own father’s Norco dependency transform him into a completely unrecognizable person. While not addicted, the impact these drugs had on my Dad was both evident and harrowing. Where had his joy gone? To be fair, I of course had my own dependency problems to consider. Pills were never my drug of choice per se, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t have said no to any had they been around. Needless to say, I didn’t want to become reliant upon something that could potentially cause me to relapse. I’d rather be stabbed in the back. Literally. That being said, it’s hard not to be fascinated by the ever-reaching impact of opioid addiction. It does not discriminate by race or region, affluence or aspiration. Per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently awarded 44 states (and the District of Columbia) millions of dollars toward surveillance and prevention. Proof positive opioid abuse has reached epidemic levels. And yet there are certain areas of the country that seem greater hit than others. According to the CDC: “in 2015, the overdose death rate for rural areas surpassed the death rate for urban or suburban areas and people living in rural areas were four times more likely to die from overdoses in 2015 than they were in 1999.” The gap has since closed, all but equally affecting urban areas as much as rural; according to a March 2021 study published in the U.S. News & World Report, 19 states reported higher opioid overdose rates than that of rural communities. One state which did not report such findings – one of only five which saw higher numbers in rural communities than that of urban areas – is North Carolina, the setting of Karen Tucker’s riveting, addictive debut, Bewilderness. It follows best friends and fellow addicts Luce and Irene (who narrates) and their shared struggles with getting clean and staying clean in the harrowing face of opioid addiction. Bewilderness begins with a going-away party: Luce, clean for nearly a year, is moving to Florida with her boyfriend (also newly clean), Wilky. Irene is distraught, unsure of how she’ll get by without her literal and figurative partner-in-crime. Tucker describes Luce and Irene’s relationship as one fueled by dependency, be it their respective drug habits, be it their reliance upon one another. Problem is, neither is dependable, so deep into their addictions they’ve plummeted that even the year of sobriety each is about to achieve seems ill-fated. For good reason, too. Bewilderness jumps back and forth from present to past, vividly detailing both the impetus and impact of the duo’s despair. And suffice to say, the details are as eye-opening as they are distressing. But not unlike the pills and thrills Luce and Irene spend their waking hours seeking, it’s also remarkably addictive. It’s also remarkably real. Tucker exhibits a prose rife with authentic drug slang, many terms of which I found myself googling even when context all but provided me with the answers of which I’d been searching. Bags of heroin are “buns,” oxymorphone referred to as “pandas,” certain pills designated by imprint (i.e. m30) rather than actual name. Odd as it may seem it felt as if I were being educated – not to mention enthralled. Tucker’s ability to bring her readers deep into the heart of each moment Luce and Irene share is nothing short of masterful. I never felt as though I were on the peripheral; for every caper they pull, every pill they cop, every meeting they attend, every reddit subforum they browse, every bad decision they make and question and make again, I was right alongside them. And oh what a wild ride it was. For that’s what best defines Bewilderness as a whole: a wild ride. Yet its wildness is derived from its uncertainty; it’s akin to a broken-down tilt-a-whirl, thrilling whether its fully functional or otherwise. The relationship between Luce and Irene is one founded upon cracked asphalt, their attempts to fill in the cracks and attain stable footing both heartbreaking and hapless. It’s rare one will find not one but two protagonists worth rooting for and against, oftentimes within the same sentence. It’s one of many stunning feats accomplished by Karen Tucker. Born and raised in North Carolina – where she also teaches creative writing at UNC – she captures the spirit of the region with pinpoint precision. Yet it’s her raw, realistic depiction of dependency which left me most awestruck. I know nothing of the writer’s own experience with opioid addiction; regardless of her background she writes with heart, one propulsive in its beating, resonant in its emotion. Every piece of it thumps within the pages Bewilderness, offering a lifeline that’s both delicate and everlasting. You’ll need it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Erika Lynn (shelf.inspiration)

    4.5 Stars See more on my Bookstagram: Shelf.Inspiration Instagram “Once upon a time there was magic, there was music, and then: nothing. Even now, years later, there are days when the world is little more than an empty scraped-out bag.” - Bewilderness. 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 r 4.5 Stars See more on my Bookstagram: Shelf.Inspiration Instagram “Once upon a time there was magic, there was music, and then: nothing. Even now, years later, there are days when the world is little more than an empty scraped-out bag.” - Bewilderness. 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 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 find the next high. 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. Thank you to NetGalley , Catapult , and Karen Tucker for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Wow what can I say about this book! Bewilderness is the story of the friendship between Irene and Luce as they live in their small mountain town, and are caught in the hold of opioid addiction. The friendship between them is one of love, co-dependence, and even danger as they battle between sobriety and drug use. I really liked how this book examined friendship through the lens of addiction and how they impact one-another. This is a heartbreaking, graphic read but it is written so well. I felt that it accurately depicted addiction and the multitude of ways that it can impact someone’s life. I would recommend this book, especially for those who have read and enjoyed books such as “Marlena”, books by author Ellen Hopkins, or movies such as “Thirteen”. Release Date: June 1, 2021

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shirley McAllister

    The Struggle This is a story about opioid addiction, it's easy access and its appeal to the young. Sadly it shows the struggles of two girls to shake the pull of the drugs and to come clean. It was so sad to see that the struggle was so real for these young people. It was sad that both had a family member that abused a substance either alcohol or drugs. It also showed the boyfriend that had the same struggle and had a well to do family, he had a college education and still could not shake the pul The Struggle This is a story about opioid addiction, it's easy access and its appeal to the young. Sadly it shows the struggles of two girls to shake the pull of the drugs and to come clean. It was so sad to see that the struggle was so real for these young people. It was sad that both had a family member that abused a substance either alcohol or drugs. It also showed the boyfriend that had the same struggle and had a well to do family, he had a college education and still could not shake the pull of the drug. I think that it would have helped them a great deal to win their fight if they had had proper support from some family member during this time. They tried cold turkey, they tried the meetings and both made it almost a year before they relapsed again. They fed off of each other. When one would try and quit the other would not and both begain using drugs again. You will experience their friendship , betrayals of and by friends and family and ultimately learn if one or either of them ever kicked free from their drug dependence. This was a sad story but it really brought to light the struggle those addicted live every day. Yes, it was their choice and they should not have started in the first place, but it was a bad choice and they needed help and support to then get off the drugs. As a society we need to recognize this need and somehow address it. I would recommend this book to any parents of young people. Thanks to Karen Tucker, Catapult books, and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review an advanced copy of the book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Angela Lashbrook

    A heartbreaking, tender story about friendship, made bearable by the author’s casual way of telling the story. This is how someone would tell you about a luminous best friend she once had while you both linger over cheap beer at a sticky bar. It’s not an easy read, emotionally; proceed with caution if you’re sensitive to drug-related stories. That said, I am one of those people, and I am so, so glad I took the plunge with Tucker’s debut. A stunner.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Hope

    This was phenomenal. Gut-wrenching, honest, deep and authentic. I was GLUED to it and I read it in a day. Cannot recommend highly enough. The main character, the friendship, what happens... I just can't even. READ THIS BOOK. This was phenomenal. Gut-wrenching, honest, deep and authentic. I was GLUED to it and I read it in a day. Cannot recommend highly enough. The main character, the friendship, what happens... I just can't even. READ THIS BOOK.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kyra Johnson

    BEWILDERNESS is a vivid, gut-wrenching, and surprisingly funny portrayal of addiction and female friendship. Set in a rural North Carolina town, we follow Irene and Luce, as they struggle with opioid addiction, sobriety and the downward spiral of their friendship and the relationships around them. Irene is sharp, witty and one hell of a narrator. Told through a nonlinear timeline, she takes us on her heartbreaking journey with addiction and the highs and lows of her friendship with the free-spir BEWILDERNESS is a vivid, gut-wrenching, and surprisingly funny portrayal of addiction and female friendship. Set in a rural North Carolina town, we follow Irene and Luce, as they struggle with opioid addiction, sobriety and the downward spiral of their friendship and the relationships around them. Irene is sharp, witty and one hell of a narrator. Told through a nonlinear timeline, she takes us on her heartbreaking journey with addiction and the highs and lows of her friendship with the free-spirited Luce. Their relationship is undeniably harmonious, maddening and incredibly unhealthy. Written with unblinking honesty and laugh-out-loud humor, Tucker’s debut is a realistic glimpse into addiction in small town America. I cannot wait to see what Tucker writes next. This beautiful, intoxicating story about opioid addiction, friendship, codependency, love and loss will grip you from start to finish. CW: rape, sexual assault, drug use/addiction Thank you so much @catapult for the #gifted book!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Clarissa Jacobson

    This was a wonderful book - heartfelt, incredibly well-written. The characters leapt off the pages! For me, there was something of a Salinger Catcher in the Rye feel to it because the main character was so flawed, so hurting, so trying to make sense of things. I read it start to finish in only a few days, and was touched by it. I loved so much how every character was so real and three-dimensional, you could love them and then hate them for their destructive attitudes and how they treated one ano This was a wonderful book - heartfelt, incredibly well-written. The characters leapt off the pages! For me, there was something of a Salinger Catcher in the Rye feel to it because the main character was so flawed, so hurting, so trying to make sense of things. I read it start to finish in only a few days, and was touched by it. I loved so much how every character was so real and three-dimensional, you could love them and then hate them for their destructive attitudes and how they treated one another and their quirks. There was a lot of pain in this book yet it was not depressing, it was really a triumph of going on with life and moving forward. LOVED IT! Highly Recommended.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Liese Schwarz

    Deftly written, raw and authentic. The story of a friendship and the bittersweet hell of addiction, with a narrative that shifts around in time, without ever losing the reader, as the story escalates. Super gritty but nothing graphic (no frank sex or animal cruelty), terrifically real characters, lingers in your mind in a good way. Well worth the read. Would make a great series-- HBO, are you listening?

  15. 4 out of 5

    KarenK2

    I received this from Netgalley.com. Irene and Luce are best friends who live, work and get high together. A good read about friends, drug use and abuse and how to come out on the other side of it to stay clean and sober striving for a new life. 3.75☆

  16. 4 out of 5

    Keely

    Twenty-something friends Irene and Luce wait tables, hustle, scrape by, mourn a friend who’s OD’d, and struggle to stay clean themselves. When Luce finally takes her chance to go to rehab, Irene can hardly stand the thought of being separated...but it seems like the best chance for them both to turn their lives around. This short novel about friendship, addiction, and codependency is both gorgeous and heartbreaking. It sucked me right in and never let go. I got the feeling reading it that element Twenty-something friends Irene and Luce wait tables, hustle, scrape by, mourn a friend who’s OD’d, and struggle to stay clean themselves. When Luce finally takes her chance to go to rehab, Irene can hardly stand the thought of being separated...but it seems like the best chance for them both to turn their lives around. This short novel about friendship, addiction, and codependency is both gorgeous and heartbreaking. It sucked me right in and never let go. I got the feeling reading it that elements of the story must be somewhat autobiographical for Tucker, as I’m not sure how else she’d be able to write about the ins and outs of addiction so convincingly. Her author acknowledgements seem to confirm this. In any case, Luce and Irene go through some pretty hardcore stuff before all is said and done, so take caution if reading about overdosing or sexual assault would be triggering for you. Other than that, I highly recommend this.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Naomi L

    My lord this book was depressing. I didn’t expect it to be happy or anything based on the subject matter but damn it was just terrible thing after terrible thing happening to these characters. It’s just very tense throughout as each scene you’re waiting for something terrible to happen and pretty much every scene it does. That being said it was an incredibly well done, honest and heartbreaking look at opioid addiction in small town America. I think especially because the main characters are teena My lord this book was depressing. I didn’t expect it to be happy or anything based on the subject matter but damn it was just terrible thing after terrible thing happening to these characters. It’s just very tense throughout as each scene you’re waiting for something terrible to happen and pretty much every scene it does. That being said it was an incredibly well done, honest and heartbreaking look at opioid addiction in small town America. I think especially because the main characters are teenage girls it is just particularly heartbreaking how many people throughout the book take advantage of them and their situation. The characters are really well written and it feels like the author doesn’t shy away from anything but also doesn’t force anything just for shock value. Hard to rate because it was not necessary pleasant to read but is definitely really well done and 100% worth the read as long as you know what you’re getting into. 4.5ish

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    A painfully brutal portrayl of addiction, friendship and love.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amy Dillon

    4.5 What a book. The story of two friends' descent into addiction and struggle to climb out was wrenching. Tucker took me into a world I know mostly by headlines and statistics, and gave me more understanding of and empathy for addicts, particularly users of opioids. It never felt preachy or technical—instead, I felt the agony of the dilemmas the characters found themselves in believed the motivations for their choices, and grieved the outcomes. The portrayal of friendship at that pivotal, format 4.5 What a book. The story of two friends' descent into addiction and struggle to climb out was wrenching. Tucker took me into a world I know mostly by headlines and statistics, and gave me more understanding of and empathy for addicts, particularly users of opioids. It never felt preachy or technical—instead, I felt the agony of the dilemmas the characters found themselves in believed the motivations for their choices, and grieved the outcomes. The portrayal of friendship at that pivotal, formative age was tender and relatable. I couldn't put it down.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jaime

    I stayed up until nearly 1:30 to finish this. I read it in one fell swoop because I couldn’t stop reading.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brianna

    Wow. What a heavy look into life in addiction (and codependency). I wanted to punch Luce and shake Irene by her shoulders and wrap them both in warm blankets. The last tenth of Bewilderness DESTROYED me. I'm so grateful for an ARC of this and definitely will be buying a copy when it comes out. Wow. What a heavy look into life in addiction (and codependency). I wanted to punch Luce and shake Irene by her shoulders and wrap them both in warm blankets. The last tenth of Bewilderness DESTROYED me. I'm so grateful for an ARC of this and definitely will be buying a copy when it comes out.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Whitney

    DAMN. Preorder this book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    This one is a heartbreaker. Irene and Luce are entwined as best friends with opioid habits. Then Luce meets Wilky, an Army sergeant who also has a pill problem and she thinks things are going to be ok, especially once they move to Florida. Except they aren't. This is told by Irene in a fluid back and forth in time way and with a clear voice. It's a dark, atmospheric look at the grim life of addicts in rural areas and there are no flinches. Co-dependency and friendship are twins in this novel of This one is a heartbreaker. Irene and Luce are entwined as best friends with opioid habits. Then Luce meets Wilky, an Army sergeant who also has a pill problem and she thinks things are going to be ok, especially once they move to Florida. Except they aren't. This is told by Irene in a fluid back and forth in time way and with a clear voice. It's a dark, atmospheric look at the grim life of addicts in rural areas and there are no flinches. Co-dependency and friendship are twins in this novel of young women who you will ache for. Thanks to netgalley for the Arc. A tough but excellent read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bailey Peters

    Read this if you want to get your heart broken. Also... at least half the time I read books centered on female friendship, I want to email the author and ask her if she knew that she was actually writing about unrequited romantic love. This is one of those instances. Not that it matters to the plot exactly, but-- the love here was so raw and exposed that it was impossible not to see.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ria the Wannabe Librarian

    2.5 ⭐. This was good writing but I just didn't connect with the characters and the story itself wasn't to my taste. Dnf at 50 pages. 2.5 ⭐. This was good writing but I just didn't connect with the characters and the story itself wasn't to my taste. Dnf at 50 pages.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Caleigh Flegg

    ooooh my gosh. brutal and beautiful and very effective

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kristin Cipolla

    Incredibly moving. The ending gutted me.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Grace Edwards

    This is a brutal read. It's a raw, honest, and intense story about drug addiction and codependency. Irene is as much addicted to drugs as she is to Luce. While Luce's quick-temper and impulsive tendencies often pull her down, as well as those around her. It doesn't glamorize drug use but gives a realistic depiction of how people can fall into addiction and then what comes after. The writing and structure reflect the state of mind these characters are often in and the effect drugs can have on mem This is a brutal read. It's a raw, honest, and intense story about drug addiction and codependency. Irene is as much addicted to drugs as she is to Luce. While Luce's quick-temper and impulsive tendencies often pull her down, as well as those around her. It doesn't glamorize drug use but gives a realistic depiction of how people can fall into addiction and then what comes after. The writing and structure reflect the state of mind these characters are often in and the effect drugs can have on memory-- scattered and disconnected. It's a difficult read, not for story or plot, but purely for subject manner. TWs: drug addiction, relapse, sexual assault, overdose Thank you to NetGalley and Catapult for an arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jenni

    Bewilderness is a gut-wrenching debut novel that follows two young women who fall into drug addiction and their attempts to get clean. Karen Tucker brilliantly captured their friendship as it teeters between love and compassion for one another and utter toxicity. I also found the pacing in this book to be fantastic, particularly in its use of a non-linear timeline. I am definitely intrigued to see where Karen Tucker goes next! Thank you to Karen Tucker and Catapult for providing me with an early Bewilderness is a gut-wrenching debut novel that follows two young women who fall into drug addiction and their attempts to get clean. Karen Tucker brilliantly captured their friendship as it teeters between love and compassion for one another and utter toxicity. I also found the pacing in this book to be fantastic, particularly in its use of a non-linear timeline. I am definitely intrigued to see where Karen Tucker goes next! Thank you to Karen Tucker and Catapult for providing me with an early copy of this work through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Bewilderness comes out on June 1.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Katherina Martin

    I just finished Bewildered. I read it through in one sitting. I have not had a book hold my attention in that way for a long time. The book is raw; it is sad and it makes you think. As a nurse, I have seen so many addicts come through the doors of the Emergency Room. They are from all walks of life but the ones that really touch me are the younger people with their whole life ahead of them. This book is about 2 girls, early twenties who just started out using opioids to party. They soon were enj I just finished Bewildered. I read it through in one sitting. I have not had a book hold my attention in that way for a long time. The book is raw; it is sad and it makes you think. As a nurse, I have seen so many addicts come through the doors of the Emergency Room. They are from all walks of life but the ones that really touch me are the younger people with their whole life ahead of them. This book is about 2 girls, early twenties who just started out using opioids to party. They soon were enjoying it so much. It made the harder things in life not so bad—until using takes over their life. I have heard lots of stories, lots of sad stories about addiction. This book seems to be very true to life. This book may be a culture shock for readers; to others it may be unbelievable. It’s true. It’s sad. The book is well-written and fast paced. It seems to be written from the heart. I give it 5 stars. I was provided an advance copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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