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Local Girls

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  5,018 Ratings  ·  400 Reviews
From the New York Times best-selling author of The DovekeepersAlice Hoffman is 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
Paperback, 208 pages
Published May 1st 2000 by Berkley (first published June 1st 1998)
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Will Byrnes
Nov 02, 2008 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: american-fiction
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
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
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 26, 2007 rated it liked it
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.
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
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
Jul 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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 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
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As always, Hoffman is brilliant. I just love her books. Much of this book was read through tears. A beautiful and poignant story.
May 16, 2018 rated it liked it
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 04, 2009 rated it it was ok
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.
Nov 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
A very short story but still Alice Hoffman at her best.
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.
Apr 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable and memorable.
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
Quite enjoyable..easy quick read:)
Barb Martin
Mar 11, 2018 rated it liked it
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
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
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
Kathleen Garber
Oct 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 02, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including 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. 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."

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.” 109 likes
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