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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Local News

The Local News
by Miriam Gershow
368 pages

About the Book

Here’s an excerpt from what Publisher’s Weekly had to say about this book: “Bright, precocious but socially awkward Lydia Pasternak reports on the aftermath of her older brothers disappearance in [The Local News]. Danny was everything Lydia wasn't: at ease with their parents, popular in school, physically imposing, beloved by the opposite sex. Danny went from being Lydia's playmate in their youth to her tormentor in high school, so his disappearance leaves Lydia with some very mixed feelings, one of which is relief. As time goes on and the weekend search parties prove more and more fruitless, Lydia struggles with the fact that her geeky best friend, David, has feelings for her; she also obsesses over the private investigator hired by the family and allows herself to be sucked into the social world Danny once dominated. Lydia’s perspective gives this [book] an unflinching quality as she details the emotional damage that reverberates even through her 10-year high school reunion.”

My Thoughts

I have mixed feelings about this book. In fact, it has been several days since I finished reading it and I still can’t decide exactly what I want to say about it. To make this easier for me I’m simply going to list my thoughts as they come to me …
  • The book is very well written. It moves along at a steady pace, never seeming to drag or feeling choppy anywhere.
  • A few of the main characters, specifically Lydia and Lola, are VERY convincing. These girls could be walking the halls of the high school near you right now (well, ok, it is summer right now, but you know what I mean).
  • Although the book deals with sad circumstances, I didn’t feel weighted down with sadness as I read. Lydia’s apathy (along with her other issues) allowed me to keep an emotional distance that enabled me to read this book. Without Lydia, I might have struggled with the topics raised. However, looking back on the book now, it is incredibly sad; the family goes into a downhill spiral after Danny’s disappearance and it is painful to watch in retrospect.
  • I really didn’t like any of the characters. This is my biggest complaint about the book and the reason that I’m struggling so much to review it. Yes, Lola was a sweet girl, but I still didn’t like her much. Danny’s friends were all super-macho jocks. Lydia … well, she is unique to be sure, but I didn’t really LIKE her either.
  • The book comes to a somewhat abrupt ending. There is some resolution to the issues raised at Lydia’s 10-year reunion but then the book just stops. Period. I’m not a big fan of that type of ending.
As I said, I have mixed feelings on this book. In my recent review of BELONG TO ME I complained that things were a bit too neatly tied up at the end; now I'm complaining that there IS no ending ... I'm sure you're thinking that I need to make up my mind already!

Other Opinions

Since I'm somewhat ambivalent about this book I figure I'd share with you what other bloggers are saying. Most of them seem to really like it, so I guess I'm in the minority here ...
  • A recent guest post ReadingGroupGuides praised this book saying, "The story is a page-turner with a quality reminiscent of Jodi Picoult's ability to explore complicated dilemmas without attempting anything so trite as solving the problem." (Maybe that is part of my problem- I'm not a big Picoult fan!)
  • Books on the Brain says, "I loved this book and couldn't put it down."
  • Redlady's Reading Room calls it "haunting and compelling."
  • Peeking Between the Pages actually liked the ending. She says, "The end of the novel brings things together nicely as it takes us to Lydia as an adult attending a school reunion and coming to terms with who she is, what she wants and what the disappearance of her brother has done to her life and her."
  • She Reads and Reads thought she wouldn't like but ended up really getting into Lydia's character.
  • Lit and Life thought the author really captured teen angst.
If you also reviewed this book I'd be happy to add your link to this list - just let me know about it in the comments.

In spite of my mixed feelings I'm sure that many of you would enjoy this book (especially if you like Jodi Picoult - it DOES remind me in some ways of her books). And if your book club is interested in talking with Miriam you can request that through her website:

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book.


bermudaonion said...

Well, it sounds like the book made you think, so it can't be too bad.

Literary Feline said...

The reviews we have to write about the books we have mixed feelings about are always the hardest for me. You did a good job getting across the positives and your points of contention, Heather.

Anna said...

This one does sound interesting, but abrupt ends are frustrating.

Diary of an Eccentric

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

bermudaonion - It wasn't a bad book, it just wasn't the right book for me.

Literary Feline - Thanks. I was hoping to not be too negative, b/c as I said above, it wasn't a bad book.

Anna - True. But I linked to Peeking Between the Pages's review in my post, and she thought it ended well, with just the right closure ... to each their own, I guess!

avisannschild said...

I had some mixed feelings about this book too, although in the end I think I enjoyed it more than you did. Feel free to check out my review! (I also linked to yours.)

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

avisannschild - Thanks for the link, I added it to my post. I'm glad that you enjoyed this one - it sounds like you really identified with Lydia for a while there.

Anonymous said...

I know EXACTLY what you mean about some books ending too abruptly and you go aaaaaaagggghhhhh, and others end abruptly and you say cool ending.

I think it depends on the book. Personally, I loved the ending of Edgar Sawtelle, while others hated it. I think it all has to do with how vividly I'm imagining a book and can continue to visualize the end. Which is related to how well the author drew me into the book.

Erika Robuck said...

Thanks for the link!

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

softdrink - good point ... I'll have to think more about that.

Erika - you're welcome.

Lisa said...

I was like you with mixed emotions on this book. I think Gershow did a great job channeling the teen sensibility. But I didn't like the ending either. Here's my review:

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Lit and Life - Thanks, I added yours in. :)

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