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The Local News: A Novel Hardcover – February 24, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau; First Edition edition (February 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385527616
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385527613
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,016,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bright, precocious but socially awkward Lydia Pasternak reports on the aftermath of her older brothers disappearance in Gershows accomplished debut. 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. Lydias perspective gives this Lovely Bones–esque story line an unflinching quality as she details the emotional damage that reverberates even through her 10-year high school reunion. Gershows psychologically acute grasp of the mundane, ugly details that accompany tragedy, combined with an understanding of the tragicomedy of high school, make for a stark and merciless narrative, leavened by Lydia's wry insights. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—Teens who liked Susan Beth Pfeffer's The Year Without Michael (Delacorte, 1987) when they were younger will find this novel to be the grown-up-and suitably more emotionally complex—version of life in a family in which a sibling has mysteriously disappeared. Book smart but socially awkward Lydia, 15, spends the months between her 18-year-old brother's disappearance and his body's discovery and interment by trying to stay out of her grieving parents' way, impress the private detective hired to bring resolution, and remake her image at school. Told 10 years later by a Lydia who is emotionally smarter but still close enough to high school to remember and note the importance of the symbols of social power, the story draws in readers quickly and maintains the tension even after Danny's whereabouts are revealed. With the exception of the mother, who comes across as vapid even in the best of circumstances, both adult and teen characters are fully realized and credible: Lydia and her geeky friend, David; her new friend, Lola; the private eye; and even the off-camera Danny are each deeply flawed, as Lydia recognizes herself to be, but sympathetic. Gershow's writing is fluid, her imagery of the mid-'90s concise and compelling, and her story universal.—Francisca Goldsmith, Halifax Public Libraries, Nova Scotia
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Miriam Gershow's debut novel, THE LOCAL NEWS, was published by Spiegel & Grau in February 2009. It has been called "unusually credible and precise" and "deftly heartbreaking" by The New York Times, as well as "an accomplished debut" (Publisher's Weekly) with a "disarmingly unsentimental narrative voice" (Kirkus Reviews).

Miriam was born in Detroit, lived briefly in Philadelphia, and spent the majority of her childhood and adolescence in the Detroit suburbs. She graduated from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with a degree in women's studies before moving to Oregon in 1994. She has worked as a life skills trainer for runaway and homeless youth, an office manager, a short order cook, and a state bureaucrat. She co-founded a non-profit organization that advocated for the rights of recipients of public mental health services. In 2000, she returned to school at the University of Oregon, where she received her MFA in fiction.

Miriam is the recipient of the James C. McCreight Fiction Fellowship from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, as well as an Oregon Literary Fellowship from Literary Arts in Portland OR. Her stories appear in The Georgia Review, Quarterly West, Black Warrior Review, Nimrod International Journal, The Journal, and Gulf Coast, among others journals. Miriam's stories have been listed in the 100 Distinguished Stories of The Best American Short Stories 2007 and appeared in the 2008 Robert Olen Butler Prize Stories. She is a past winner of the AWP Intro Journals award and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Miriam has taught fiction writing at the University of Wisconsin and Portland State University, as well as descriptive writing to gifted high school students through Johns Hopkins University. She currently lives in Eugene with her husband and son, where she is working on her next novel and teaching in the English department at the University of Oregon.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 20 customer reviews
I look forward to the next novel.
David Ward
Gershow's debut is compelling, funny, heartbreaking, and uncomfortable in all the right ways.
Jonathan E. Evison
The storyline is good but the progression of it is extremely slow.
Jennifer South

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. WIlliams TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"The Local News" is the story of a popular teenager who goes missing, from the perspective of his far-less popular, bookish younger sister, Lydia Pasternak.

Miriam Gershow's tale is initially compelling and unquestionably well-written. The author is expert at setting a scene and evoking emotion with her prose.

That having been said, I felt that the promising story--Lydia is very well drawn, relatable and interesting with plenty of poignant, pitch-perfect teenage moments--fizzles out and goes nowhere about halfway through.

It feels like the build-up of the mystery--what really happened to Danny and how their family copes, or doesn't--was just too much. The resolution seems rushed and, perhaps inevitably, anti-climatic, while the entire last section of the novel, focused on an adult Lydia's return to her hometown for a class reunion, seems pointless. All the characters are so much less brightly drawn than in their previous, high school incarnations and the new additions to the book's cast are dull and uninteresting--to the point where I found myself skipping over paragraphs of text.

The lone exception to this is Lydia and Danny's mother who has found a not-surprising, but still interesting new life's work; though how she maintains her life, and home, while doing all this pro-bono is never explained and highly improbable. (Money is NEVER an issue in this tale, throughout the story, even in places I kept expecting it to come up, as it would in real life. That fact took me out of the story a few times when I was thinking, 'A real family in this situation could never afford to do this or that.')

The final, rushed chapters feel, to me, like a book editor's last minute addition--"we need you to say what happened next"--rather than an organic creation of the author, which put a damper on the whole story, for me.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Smith on September 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Review of "The Local News"
Can a family survive an "in the news" tragedy, the sudden attention it brings, and the pressures unforgiving and relentless? Yes...and No. This is a story about siblings, how cruel they can be, and how, because of circumstance, an agent for growth through introspection.
This is not my genre of reading. Not close...not even remotely close. I read it for personal reasons and am the better, if not wiser for it. At 70 and male, reading a book about and related by a 16 year old girl seems strange at best. Maybe even weird. However, this book took me back to my teenage years and the unpleasant memories that were an actual part of my growing up. I survived, the family survived, the siblings still love each other, and my parents died knowing they did their best through tumultuous times... for the Fifties.
The characters in "The Local News" are well drawn, the story compelling as related by Lydia, and as her family got "through it" as best they could in the book, so will you, as did I (does he mean the novel or life...hmmm). It reminds us just how fragile the family unit is and how heroic parents try to be, often falling short because they are just human not superhuman. So if you are 70 or 16, this well written, sensitive and sometimes humorous first novel has much to offer. You should look forward to more from Miriam Gershow.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By harmskills on July 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
So well written, I could not put it down and at the end, left me wanting more. A great read!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Beth Hoffman on May 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
Themes of grief, confusion, and neglect are artfully stitched together in this haunting, well-written story. Ms. Gershow does an excellent job of exploring the deep and sometimes convoluted feelings of Lydia, a bright, unassuming teenage girl. Becoming all but invisible to her distraught parents and simultaneously thrust into the spotlight by her school and community when her popular brother goes missing, Lydia's voice and emotions ring clear and true -- heartbreakingly so. As her interior and exterior worlds collapse and then reshape themselves during the critical years of teenage development and beyond, Lydia's story is one of brutal honesty, pain, and ultimately survival.

A fascinating in-depth character study that I enjoyed from the first to the last page.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Voracious Reader on February 15, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
THE LOCAL NEWS is notable for being impossible to put down, and for following a family impacted by violence through many years. Trauma doesn't end in a year or two--it haunts a family forever and this book does a magnificent job of taking the reader on the journey. Though heartbreaking, this story has so much humanity and honest, one sinks deep and thoroughly into the read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jessica P. on November 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As we work our way through the bookstore aisles..this is what we are searching for. A hidden gem..a book that will keep us up late at night yearning for more. Miriam Gershow's novel is just that--compelling, moving, told in such a believable voice. If you think the story of a teenager who goes missing is too dark--think again. This novel is certainly about loss, but in many ways, it is about the relationship of brother and sister, mother and daughter and the strange time that is adolescence. A+++++++
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ygdrasl on August 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This account of the disappearance of a popular high school senior and its aftermath is recounted by his less-than-popular younger sister.

From the outset, it has unlimited possibilities of characterization going for it:
Danny and his friends- the athletes and flag girls- are set against the smart kids and loners who comprise his sister Lydia's world. Their parents are shocked into helplessness, and Lydia finds herself supported by Danny's old crowd, who view her as sort of an odd appendage of their lost friend. The story unfolds at a measured pace, as Lydia finds herself pulled between her normal life and this extraordinary event.

It's her thought process that's the real subject of the book, and her mix of independence, longing, insight, and teenage insecurity that makes it so compelling.

Some reviewers notice the beautiful language and disciplined writing skills that underpin The Local News. I was more impressed by its momentum, the way events are suggested and set in motion long before they occur. Nothing is left to chance here, and everything has its appropriate weight. A very powerful book.
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