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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Book Review: "Local Girls"

Local GirlsLocal Girls by Alice Hoffman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the eleventh Alice Hoffman novel I have read, but the first in five years, and it isn't a new one. She was once my favorite novelist, and "Second Nature" remains one of my dozen favorite books, ever. But I hated the last one I read before this, "The Ice Queen". I hated it so much that I quit reading Hoffman.

Nonetheless, when I was searching my shelves a few days ago for a book to read, I found "Local Girls" tucked away where it had been forgotten, and because it was an older novel of hers, I decided to read it. It reminded me a little bit of "Seventh Heaven"; not bad, but not great, either.

To me, Hoffman's strengths have always been her very well-drawn female characters and her sense of magic. There is plenty of that in this novel, which is the story of a girl, Gretel, and the people surrounding her as she moves from her teen years to young adulthood. We meet her best friend Jill, her mother, who contracts breast cancer, her cousin Margot, and her doomed brother who never really recovers from his father leaving.

What I liked best about "Local Girls" was the believability of every one of the characters, even when Hoffman's signature magical realism takes them through some unusual plot twists. What I liked least was that the main character, Gretel, while not unsympathetic, wasn't someone who I felt could carry a novel. She's just a pretty ordinary "local girl", which I suppose is the point, but while I liked them well enough, I won't miss any of these characters nor probably recall much about them a year from now.

I can't recommend "Local Girls" except for waits at airports or the like. But I did recently buy Hoffman's recent and much-praised novel "The Dove Keepers", so we shall see.

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  1. Hard hitting and honest review

    "very well-drawn female characters and her sense of magic. "

    Um, that's YOU!

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  2. Sounds like it might be good in the doctor's waiting room--almost anything reads better there. You'd have to put them all in hoop skirts and feathered hats for me to read it, I'm afraid.(And her brother would probably look silly.)

  3. I thought I might have read one of her books, but looked at the list and none ring a bell.

  4. I too am sure I've read at least one of her books, but thought the book "Aquamarine" was by her, but perhaps not.

    At least now I know which book to NOT slobber over in anticipation...

  5. I guess it would be better than nothing . . .


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