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.
Claire Nozieres manages the translation rights for Bewilderness
"This is a heartrending novel about addiction, love, and fragile starts, and it held me captive with its deft pacing and attention to detail. Tucker shows how the world is made up of small, unheralded stories--of great loves and
senseless losses--and her novel sets out, and succeeds, to make us feel one of them."
"Karen Tucker's debut novel Bewilderness captures
the relentless tug of addiction--to a person, to a substance, to a feeling--with wrenching honesty and insight. This fierce, heartbreaking story of female friendship and loss--narrated by the wise, sharply funny Irene--had me riveted from the first page. Read it, read it, read it."
"Karen Tucker has the chaotic truth-telling energy of a sage and a lack of sentimentality that would give Hunter S. Thompson stomach cramps. This is the novel the opiate epidemic needs."Rufi Thorpe, author of The Knockout Queen and The Girls from Corona Del Mar
Beautiful, gritty, and piercing, Bewilderness is a whirlwind journey through the highs and lows of friendship, love, and addiction. Luce and Irene are young, vulnerable, and utterly human, and you will root for them on every page despite their betrayals and failures. Karen Tucker fearlessly confronts the hardest question of all—why?— contrasting our brief and shining moments on this earth with the murky and inexplicable border between the here and hereafter. Bewilderness is a tough and tender heartbreak of a read.
Tucker astonishes in her devastating debut, a harrowing account of addiction, friendship, and loss ... This is a stunning accomplishment.