Friday 28 June 2019

LOCAL GIRLS by Alice Hoffman

Local Girls
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yesterday afternoon, I grabbed this book from my thrift-store-finds-TBR pile with the intention of getting a sample. But Alice Hoffman's writing is so lovely and magical that I instantly got swept away in the story.

By the time I put the book down, I'd read over 70 pages. And this morning, I sat down to read a bit more and ended up finishing the rest.

Gretel Samuelson lives in Franconia with her family. Her absent father is always arguing with her unappreciated mother. Her older brother is so intelligent all he cares about is school. But when her father eventually leaves, her mother gets depressed and eventually becomes ill, and her brother stops caring about anything.

At least Gretel has her best friend Jill by her side, but as time moves along even that dynamic changes. And eventually everything in Gretel's life starts crumbling around her...

Wow. What a story!

It's fast-paced and emotional, starts when Gretel is a kid and takes her through her teen years and beyond. It's the kind of story that is grounded in real life because it focuses on the hardship of people's everyday lives, while throwing a little magic realism into the mix.

And it's done so effortlessly that once you start, you can't put the book down because you have to find out where it's going, where it's going to lead, and how it's going to end.

The issues Gretel's tale deals with are heavy: divorce, depression, cancer, mental illness, teen pregnancy, addiction and death. It's a total tragedy, because the awful things Gretel and her family deal with are dark and real. Stuff people suffer through every single day of their lives. Just like in real life, there's no cheating here, the consequences are real and devastating.

Yet, it's still such a wonderful book to read. In spite--or maybe because--of the trials Gretel goes through, that she manages to hold onto her strength means so much more in the end.

This is a lovely, but often sad, story about family, love, friendship and the way different people deal with hardships.

Also, there are several POV shifts that had the potential to be jarring, but totally worked at showing what other characters were going through.

Alice Hoffman is an amazing author, and the way she strings words together takes the reader on an emotional and unstable ride that will break your heart, make you cry and smile all at the same time.

I loved this!

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