Summary and book reviews of Local Girls by Alice Hoffman

Local Girls

By Alice Hoffman

Local Girls
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Jun 1999,
    197 pages.
    Paperback: May 2000,
    208 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

The New York Times Book Review has noted, "Alice Hoffman writes quite wonderfully about the magic in our lives," and now she casts her spell over a Long Island neighborhood filled with dreamers and dreams. In a dazzling series of family portraits, Hoffman evokes the world of the Samuelsons, a family torn apart by tragedy and divorce in a world of bad judgment and fierce attachments, disappointments, and devotion.

With rich, pure prose Hoffman charts the always unexpected progress of Gretel Samuelson from the time Gretel is a young girl already acquainted with betrayal and grief, until she finally leaves home. Gretel's sly, funny, knowing perspective is at the heart of this collection as she navigates through loyalty and loss with the help of an unforgettable trio of women: her best friend, Jill, her romance-addicted cousin Margot, and her mother, Franny, whose spiritual journey affects them all. Told in alternating voices, these stories work wonders. Funny and lyrical, disturbing and healing, each is a lesson of survival, a reminder of the ties of blood and the power of friendship. Jane Smiley has said that "a reader is in good hands with Alice Hoffman," and once again in her expert hands, everyday life has been transformed into magic.

Dear Diary

One thing I've learned is that strange things do happen. They happen all the time. Today, for instance, my best friend Jill's cat spoke. We were making brownies in the kitchen when we heard it say, Let me out. Well, we rushed to the back door and did exactly that. We experienced a miracle and now we're looking for more, although Franconia, the town we live in, is not known for such things. Jill and I have known each other our whole lives. One house separates our houses but we act as if it doesn't exist. We met before we were born and we'll probably still know each other after we die. At least, that's the way we're planning it.

My mother and I left for Atlantic City so quickly I didn't have time to call Jill. We told people we were on our way to visit an old aunt, but really our departure had something to do with love, or the lack of it, and the aunt doesn't even exist. I know other people whose mothers suddenly pack up when their ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews
Kirkus Reviews

Hoffman's trademark there's-magic-beneath-the-surface-of-our-daily-lives stance feels pretty tired here, as do the characters. The central theme--"Fate could twist you around and around, if you weren't careful"--is reiterated so often it ceases to have any impact. Hoffman remains a major talent, but she's marking time here.

School Library Journal - Jackie Gropman

What raises all of this above the mediocre is the intimacy and immediacy of the narrative voice.....The language is wisecracking, scintillating, descriptive, and honest. Female readers will recognize and respond to the themes of relationships: those with men who all too often disappoint and those between friends and mothers and daughters that nourish and endure.

Library Journal

This series of vignettes about Gretel Samuelson's teenage years is told with wisecracking humor and poignant honesty. A book that's sure to strike an empathetic chord with readers.

Publishers Weekly

Though dysfunctional family fiction seems standard fare these days, Hoffman's highly individual knack for creating a sense of specific atmosphere is uncanny and unique, a quality that translates especially well in spoken form.

The New York TImes Book Review - Sarah Ferguson

Told in alternating voices, the stories form a scapbook of pivotal moments in the lives of Gretel and...her best friend, Jill...[at] 12, that unpredictable and dangerous age when sampling shades of lipstick and playing with dolls seem equally interesting.

New York Times Book Review

Alice Hoffman writes quite wonderfully about the magic in our lives," and now she casts her spell over a Long Island neighborhood filled with dreamers and dreams. In a dazzling series of family portraits, Hoffman evokes the world of the Samuelsons, a family torn apart by tragedy and divorce in a world of bad judgment and fierce attachments, disappointments, and devotion.

Reader Reviews
Shira

Love....
I LOVE this book. It's my favorite book ever. My dad brought it home one day for when I was 13 years old and told me the writing was done really well. Of course I did not want to read it at first because usually the books my dad brings home for me ...   Read More

FinnishGirl

I'm 16 years old Finnish girl and this was the first book I read in English. I think it was pretty good. At least it was short, readable and easy-to-understand.

Clare Bachman

I think that the book "Local Girls" is very good. I am 13 and this book really relates to my life. My cousin, was reading it on the plane we were riding on and she fell asleep. I picked the book up and started reading it. I got addicted to ...   Read More

Will M.

I think that the book Local Girls is a fantastic entrance into the world of Alice Hoffman. Whether one is reading her again or for the first time Local Girls like the other books written by Alice Hoffman is a triumph. Hoffman spins the tales on ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Local Girls, try these:

  • Amy and Isabelle jacket

    Amy and Isabelle

    by Elizabeth Strout

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Amy Goodrow, a shy high school student in a small mill town, falls in love with her math teacher, and together they cross the line between understandable fantasy and disturbing reality.

  • Going To Bend jacket

    Going To Bend

    by Diane Hammond

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    An evocative debut novel about life in a small town and of two women testing their own limits. A moving and deftly told portrait of the hard-scrabble life.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...
  • Book Jacket: Shotgun Lovesongs
    Shotgun Lovesongs
    by Nickolas Butler
    Nickolas Butler's debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, follows five life-long friends, now in their mid-...
  • Book Jacket: Gemini
    Gemini
    by Carol Cassella
    How good is Gemini, Carol Cassella's book about a Seattle intensive care physician who becomes ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Who Said...

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.