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Local Girls

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  3,965 ratings  ·  290 reviews
From theNew York Timesbest-selling author ofThe Dovekeepers,Alice Hoffmanis at her haunting, thought-provoking best with these interconnected stories about a Long Island family, the Samuelsons, and the lessons in survival and transformation that life brings to every family...

"Pulls the reader in effortlessly...Hoffman has the power to make you really laugh and really cry."
Paperback, 208 pages
Published May 1st 2000 by Berkley (first published June 1st 1998)
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Practical Magic by Alice HoffmanThe Dovekeepers by Alice HoffmanHere on Earth by Alice HoffmanThe Probable Future by Alice HoffmanThe Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman
Best Alice Hoffman Novel
21st out of 36 books — 279 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainThe Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Juvenile Narrators in Books for Grown-Ups
45th out of 159 books — 89 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Will Byrnes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is the book that proved to one of my best friends that despite my addiction to romances, I do actually have good taste in books. I'd been telling her for years to read Alice Hoffman, but, due to the aforementioned, she kept taking a pass. After all someone who reads romances (insert disdainful tone) couldn't possibly know a good book when they read one. Then came this book, which felt autobiographical there were so many parallels to our lives & friendship. I forced the issue and gave he ...more
Nov 28, 2007 Mary rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Strong Islanders
I had Mr. Gober as my English teacher in the ninth grade. He was a very strange man, too strange really to document in this tiny little space, but this isn't about how strange he was. This is about how he assigned us the worst books to read, and very few of them at that. Everyone else was reading The Catcher in the Rye, while we were reading Bang the Drum Slowly--blech. I began to hate reading (and baseball), because all the books I had to read were not my taste at all.

For one assignment he to
Portions of this novel were absolutely beautiful! Perhaps a deceptively simple story... if that makes sense.

My favorite quotes, which keep lingering in my mind...

“There was a bird perched above us in a leafless tree, a little grey thing, a sparrow or a wren. We all looked up, hoping it would sing, but it was silent as stone. We had to laugh then, all three of us.

“ ‘Just our luck,’ Margot said, ‘a mute.’

“ ‘Maybe it’s resting,’ my mother insisted. ‘Maybe it sang the most beautiful song in the wo
Four minus.
Sweet and short, in that order. I finished it in one evening.

Hoffman has a wonderful writing style. She wrote "Practical Magic," which was made into a movie. If you've seen it, you know that she's strong on female characters and the bonds between them.

Reading this book, I fell in love not so much with the characters themselves, but with their relationships, and the way Hoffman writes about them. Some of the characters are self-destructive or otherwise less than fully loveable, but Ho
This was the second book I read from Alice Hoffman--the first was Practical Magic. This wasn't as well developed as PM, but it was still an entertaining read. She started out telling the story from Gretel's point of view and then switched to 3rd person narratives of different characters halfway through. She is actually a stronger writer in 3rd person, but switching the voice halfway made the novel seem less cohesive. Still, the ending scene reminded me of when my friend Amy came to visit me at m ...more
Jul 13, 2009 Cherie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Alice Hoffman fans, Emily P, Venessa, Emily T
Shelves: fiction, oneofmyfaves
Note: Just re-read this again. This book is so phenomenal, so amazing. The emotions are so real it will make you forget your own problems. It's one of my all-time favourite books. Read it. (13 July 2009)

I have read this book so many times, and most recently, a few weeks ago. A novel in short stories, this is the fantastic story of the life of a suburban girl (and I believe the town is to be the one I grew up in!) and how things can go so horribly wrong so quickly...but luckily our narrator can h
A quite interesting shortish story told from the point of view of Gretel, and her growing up in the not so best of circumstances. We see the highs and (mostly) lows of her growing up, then the coming of age full circle. It was nice to see Gretel and her best friend share the last scene. This book is different to what I usually enjoy and was nice for a change of pace.
Sally Whitehead
I've read almost all of Hoffman's books since "Blue Diary" and a fair few of her earlier ones. In fact it would be fair to say she is easily one of my favourite authors. I am always a little wary though of dipping into a favourite author's "back catalogue" - but "Local Girls" did not disappoint. It lacks the magical realism of many of Hoffman's other works (although there are occasional subtle hints that it might be something she will go on to explore in the future...) but it's firmly in the "Bl ...more
This is a sort of cross between a collection of short stories and a novel. The stories are all about Gretel Samuelson, who lives in a small town which she can't wait to leave. The stories follow her from girlhood to womanhood, and also focus on her family - most are told in the first person, but a few in the third. This format gives a slightly disjointed feeling at times but I still think it works very well.
Some of the stories are very powerful, especially one which follows Gretel's brother on
I read this in one sitting, and it was a mildly moving piece of fiction that felt a lot more like a collection of first chapters from a series of books. I enjoyed the format, but it meant that you didn't really get much depth of character, though you did get a surprising amount of implied depth. I think, however, this was a carefully constructed pool of shallow depth - I think it took a lot of restraint on the author's part to do this.
One of Ms. Hoffman's earlier works(?) from 1999, this is a lovely and moving story of Gretel Samuelson, coming of age amidst the break-up of her parent's marriage, the death of her grandmother, and her mother's battle with, and eventual demise from, cancer.

These beautifully realized characters are so human, and their struggles to come to terms with the events impacting their lives are universal and terribly familiar.

And yet, it is an ultimately a very positive novel, although we agonize, along w
I think part of what makes me such a heavy reader is the fact that I love books like I love people. Because quite frankly, books are very much like people in so many ways. They speak of lives and hold secrets. They keep you company, they become a refuge. You can love or hate them. They can have odd first impressions and feelings that you could shake off a few days later or probably they could linger a little bit longer than you think they would, and if you’re lucky, sometimes they can also chang ...more
This is a beautifully written book. I love Hoffman's writing style and a lot of the descriptions she uses are poetic.

I loved the characters, but it is a quick read so you don't get as in-depth as you might like. The storyline itself is a tad depressing and anti-climactic. This is partially because of the format of the book. It is comprised of short stories, but they are all about the same characters and they are in chronological order. Except there are gaps in time. So really, it is more like a
I have never read a book with this type of format before. It was very easy to get through. There was no pressure to read on (like there may be for me in a novel) but, unlike different short stories, I wanted to read on to see what becomes of the characters.

The author's narrative really transported me to the time and place, and, at times, reminded me of places I've been or feelings I've felt while experiencing certain events and places in my own life. There were many individual sentences in seve
Can I just say, again, how much I love Alice Hoffman? Her books are a joy to read. I just finished Local Girls and it brought me back to my own high school days and the summers I spent with girlfriends. It isn't just about Gretel and Jill; it's also about their parents and the hard road marriage can be. Everything about the book is totally relatable and Hoffman's prose is such a pleasure to read. Example: "She couldn't find herself past the black despair that wraps around those who love a person ...more
I always remember Hoffman as a skilled writer, and this collection of linked stories reminds me of why I do! The first reader, responsible for all the stories told in first person, reads fast, so Hoffman's words come at me like a blizzard--and she's good! She's insightful! She's funny, wry, and precise. So far (I'm on side 2 of tape 2 of 3), her "practical magic" is toned down--sparks DO fly from Gretel's fingers when she finally falls in love, but nothing as overt as in many of her novels. It's ...more
One of the nicest books I have ever read. A little like Sarah Dessen, but has a different edge to it.

The novel is a combination of short stories that make up a whole novel. The main character, Gretel, is smart but believes less and less in the world, and in love. This is because she loses her dad in a divorce, her mom dies from cancer, and her brother dies from drugs - even though he used to be perfect and an almost Harvard student.

She explores her life and sadness, sharing the stories of her li
Kathleen Garber
Another awesome book by Alice Hoffman. It's so hard to explain what it is I like so much about her books. Her writing style is so unlike any other I've read. What's even more interesting with this particular book is that each chapter does not take place directly after the previous chapter. Sometimes days have gone by, sometimes years. This really makes sense because not every day of someone's life is noteworthy.

The story is about two girls, Gretel and Jill and their families and lives. Both of
Jan 16, 2008 Felicity rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who think they don't like short stories
Imbued with a charming voice, these very short stories draw you into the story of Gretel Samuelson's adolescence and keep you flipping pages. I finished it in practically one sitting (airport, airplane...that's about one sitting.) A quick and moving read.

It does move, over the course of the book, from mostly first-person stories to third-person stories, as the content becomes more serious. While this saves the author from having to render dramatic, emotional events in a first-person voice that m
I felt like the characters in this book were people who might live down the street. Gretel and Jill, Franny and Margot were all women I could relate to. They were women I think I would be friends with. Although it was not a long book, it was told with skill and you were given insights into the womens' lives and you could understand their struggles, heartbreaks and successes. I loved the ending, simple but fulfilling. As a reader, I have an on/off relationships with Alice Hoffman. Sometimes I lik ...more
Sep 01, 2010 Davina rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fiona
This one grew on me. It felt a bit lazy to start with, as though Alice was on autopilot. Ostensibly short stories, but she doesn't end them very well, and they are all linked and in chronological order anyway. So it may as well be a novel but without the bits she didn't want to write, otherwise you'd expect the stories to be self-contained gems. A couple of them are powerful, and the whole thing grew on me and made me feel warm and fuzzy and like life was really worth living. Not as good as The ...more
Lo odié de principio a fin.
Kristina Koznova
I really enjoyed this book. It was a simple, lighthearted read that was very well written and easy to understand. Even though the characters were not given much depth, Alice Hoffman made it very easy for me to connect to every character. The two main characters, Jill and Gretel, were both characters that I would love to be friends with if they existed. They are highly adventurous and are simply carefree. Of course, it is not right to spill paint over a neighbor's car as revenge and do various il ...more
Madi MacNeil
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I thought it was very well written, and was an easy yet enjoyable read. I found myself able to connect with Gretel & Jill's relationship, seeing as I have that type of relationship with my best friend. I remember just being at home and going to go meet up with her and just hang out or talk, similar to what Gretel & Jill do at the beginning of the novel. I also found myself connecting with Gretel's pain and dislike when her parents got divorced, and when he ...more
There were things I liked and things I was so-so to in Local Girls by Alice Hoffman. The brevity of the language and story is what is keeping me from rating the book higher. This is the first novel I've read by her, and I hope to read more.

Local Girls is a short novel about Gretel as she grows up from a girl with dreams to a teenager with cynicism to an adult with faith that things always turn out okay in the end. Its a story of growing up and the aches and pains that are a part of life. Gretel
This was my first introduction to Alice Hoffman, and I have to say she is very talented, but I found myself wishing this were a novel instead of a series of short stories. She reminds me a great deal of an older, wiser, more serious Jennifer Weiner, and perhaps that's why I wanted a novel here too (see review for The Guy Not Taken). However, I do think it is a good introduction to her, and it definitely led me to read other books that I loved very much.
Think that life sucks except on those days when life REALLY SUCKS? Need to laugh about it? Pissed off about it? Long "to believe in something" other than "bad luck"?(Hoffman 136). Holding onto the magical matches that may light "candles in the rain"? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe. See life up close? See it from a distance? Both? Haven't read Alice Hoffman's LOCAL GIRLS? "This one's for you -- wherever you are."
Read this last night because I was up with insomnia and an upset stomach. it kept me interested but was terribly depressing. I inherited a stack of Alice Hoffman books from a friend who moved away, and even though I tend to enjoy them at some level, the relationships and characters within seem foreign to me. Not because I don't think they are realistically written, but because my reality is so far from that.
I'm kind of torn on this review, because although I really enjoyed this book, it had a lot of things I didn't like. For instance, the plot was disjointed, jumping through the main character's life and leaving off in the middle of scenes. It also switched between first and third person during the whole book. I suppose these are styles, but they left me feeling confused. The actual story itself wasn't that much to write home about, either. It was sweet, sentimental, but not grab you and suck you i ...more
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BEP090P2: The Wonder Years 4 6 Nov 05, 2014 04:26PM  
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Alice Hoffman was born in New York City on March 16, 1952 and grew up on Long Island. After graduating from high school in 1969, she attended Adelphi University, from which she received a BA, and then received a Mirrellees Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, which she attended in 1973 and 74, receiving an MA in creative writing. She currently lives in Boston and New York ...more
More about Alice Hoffman...
The Dovekeepers Here on Earth Practical Magic The Museum of Extraordinary Things The Red Garden

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“...he had a way of taking your hand which made it clear he'd have to be the one to let go."

From Alice Hoffman's "Local Girls", pg.102.”
“Here's the thing about don't know if it's good or bad until you have some perspective.” 95 likes
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