Bewilderness by Karen Tucker


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“Written with blistering honesty and empathy, this is an unflinching portrait of addiction and the gritty, gutsiness of coming into oneself as a woman.

We meet Irene and Luce, two best friends in rural North Carolina, while they’re clean, just before a traumatic event. What follows are the just-high-enough-highs and the seemingly-bottomless-lows of their addictions, each of them pulled into strains of codependency and recklessness while the possibility of getting clean looms in the distance like a mirage.

The characters’ insistence on using drugs as emotional napalm and Tucker’s raw, vulnerable prose demand more than that we see a piece of society often ignored. They demand we feel it.”

<3 Miranda

TW: addiction, assault
Related: Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce & Marlena by Julie Buntin


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.

Bewilderness by Karen Tucker
Epilogue BCB