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Local Girls

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  5,301 ratings  ·  427 reviews
In this series of connected stories young Gretel Samuelson comes of age in a small-town neighbourhood and Alice Hoffman casts her characteristic spell over the lives of girls and women. Told from Gretel's sly and knowing perspective, Local Girls charts Gretel's always unexpected progress as she navigates from childhood to the brink of womanhood, through a series of long ho ...more
Paperback, 197 pages
Published August 5th 1999 by Chatto Windus (first published June 1st 1998)
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3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,301 ratings  ·  427 reviews

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Will Byrnes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 14, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
The Effects of Ennui

Back in the days when Archie Bunker was a television buffoon and not the President of the United States, the Long Island suburbs were a region of anonymous mediocrity. Nothing happened there because there was no developed society. The components were in place - schools, shops, public libraries, cinemas, restaurants - but they never formed a coherent whole, just an endless desert of unrewarding routine practised within hundreds of indistinguishable neighbourhoods by hundreds o
Sep 07, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this last night while trying to keep warm and like all Alice Hoffman's I enjoyed getting to know her characters, their fates, tragedy and emotions in an unfair world of sickness, disappointment, bad judgements and love. It tells the story of Gretel, her best friend Jill, her cousin Margot and her Mother Franny, each on their own spiritual journey with the power and loyalty of friendship together.
Jun 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Just a hunch but I strongly suspect that this book is loosely based on Alice Hoffman's early life. The story of two young girls growing up in Long Island, New York with very rough childhoods. The families are dysfunctional, the parents are self-centered, mentally ill, or dying of breast cancer. Pretty depressing stuff. It is a book that you can race through but it takes a chuck of you with it. Not my favorite Hoffman work but maybe I was expecting more of the wonderful magic realism, that this a ...more
Nov 26, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Alicia Miller
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018
If you’ve never read an Alice Hoffman novel, you are truly missing out on an outstanding reading experience. Her writing is beautiful, set with an emotional outlook on real life, and laced with unrivaled magic. Her characters are ordinary people, with lives that both lack and have it all. Their stories are engrossing, and say so much without much dialogue.
Local Girls is heartbreaking and genuine, telling stories of the different ways in which people approach and define love. And it is SO good!
Aug 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
May 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A coming of age tale focused around Gretel. She faces many difficult situations throughout her life. A story about family, friendship, tragedy, grief, life's challenges, love and growing up amidst it all. A nicely written page turner with fascinating characters.
Oct 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
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
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Mar 05, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this short novel about friendship, family, love, loss and dreams that may or may not come true. The characters are fascinating and the story moves along quickly. The writing, as usual, is just beautiful.

There is a weird shift from first person to third about midway through the book which is off putting, and after that it keeps switching between chapters.

Other than that, this is a typical Alice Hoffman, with her signature magical elements, some of which are quite funny (watch for the
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As always, Hoffman is brilliant. I just love her books. Much of this book was read through tears. A beautiful and poignant story.
This is the third book I have read by Alice Hoffman and I am in love with her writing. This book is kind of sad on top of sad but the beauty of the writing makes it all worth while. This is mostly a coming of age story full of female friendship and family.
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
Jul 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, e-book
The blurb calls this a set of "interconnected stories", so I was expecting something more along the lines of her Blackbird House for instance. But this was all loosely connected episodes from one family's life, sometimes with months or years in between the chapters.

It just didn't work for me. The chapters try to be, but aren't quite, self-contained stories. At times, it seems like Hoffman's aiming for a plot or at least a continuous narrative thread, but, again, it fell just short of feeling sa
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.
Apr 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable and memorable.
Mar 07, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Not quite a 3. I've liked her other books much better. I felt like this was disjointed, sketchy and not one I'd recommend as a must read, it was just ok.
Nov 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very short story but still Alice Hoffman at her best.
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the whole feel of this - angsty, a bit magical, dark but comforting.. Alice Hoffman does adolescence (and first crushes) really well and this made me feel dreamy and nostalgic despite all the darkness and sadness. I wasn't sure why the perspective started to change in some of the later chapters, from Gretel's narrative to third-person...but it didn't really bother me i guess.
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite enjoyable..easy quick read:)
Barb Martin
Alice Hoffman weaves magic again in this story about Gretel, her best friend and a family plagued with bad luck and problems with men.

The chapters pick points in time to explore, often with the mystical touches common in Hoffman's books. This is a quick read, albeit somewhat sad. Alice Hoffman fans should not be disappointed.
Jan 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kathleen Garber
Oct 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
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
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Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The World That We Knew, The Rules of Magic, The Marriage of Opposites, Practical Magic, The Red Garden, the Oprah’s Book Club selection Here on Earth, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, and The Dovekeepers. Her most recent novel is The World That We Knew. She lives near Boston.
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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.” 218 likes
“Here's the thing about don't know if it's good or bad until you have some perspective.” 110 likes
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