Summary and book reviews of Local Girls by Alice Hoffman

Local Girls

by Alice Hoffman

Local Girls
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  • First Published:
    Jun 1999, 197 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2000, 208 pages

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Book Summary

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.

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 ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

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.

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.

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

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

Micky Secco

Local Girls by Alice Hoffman sets a guideline for healing and recovery for those girls and boys ranging from teenage to early adulthood who have been deeply affected as a result of parental divorce.

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