Seventeen year old Paige is found by her girlfriend, with wrists slit, in a failed suicide attempt. She wants to control her life, not rehash it through therapy – a key source of pain being blamed for a family tragedy as a child, when it was her twin sister Abbie, who kept quiet and let her suffer. Her small town in Colorado are debating the rights of gays and lesbians, and – still being in the closet – she wonders what will happen if her secret is found out – will she end up dead like her best friend, Alex?
T.B. Markinson doesn’t shy away from difficult subject matter – suicide, murky family history, college, sexuality – and does so in a way that doesn’t sound preachy, it just is what it is. More so, she gives them proper attention in doing them justice, and giving them the appropriate gravitas.
Even Paige’s relationship doesn’t fall foul to that typical cliché of focussing on the physical sides of a lesbian couple, almost as if the physicality needs to be described to reinforce it as a literary relationship.
It’s not all as dark and serious as it might seem, though, as Markinson manages to douse some real humour throughout. It’s a gradual build up that sucks you in, and Paige – bit by bit – lets her defences down and others in. Marionette is something different – something difficult, at times – but it’s presented brilliantly.