Published by Spiegel & Grau, a division of Random House
Rating: 4 stars
This book was just released this week!
"The Local News" is narrated by Lydia Pasternak, whose older brother Danny mysteriously disappears one night, when Lydia was 15 years old. Most of the book consists of Lydia's memories of her high school years and the impact Danny's disappearance had on her life and her relationships. Lydia was an incredibly brilliant social outcast, who kept few friends and was constantly being teased by her older brother and his popular friends. Once Danny goes missing, everything changes for Lydia. She starts receiving attention from the other kids at school and much to her surprise, Danny's friends become protective over her and even befriend her. Lydia also takes a liking to the detective investigating Danny's case and a deep interest in helping him track down the truth. The books ends with the present day, as Lydia prepares for her 10th high school reunion and readers get to see what became of the other characters.
This is Miriam Gershow's first novel and I think it is an excellent testament to her beautiful writing style and powerful story-telling abilities. I loved how so many of her phrases were like poetry, because of the way they could evoke intense emotions. The writing and overall tone of this book reminded me so much of Alice Sebold's "The Lovely Bones" (which funny enough, I later read the same thoughts from The New York Times book review). The similarities lie in the dark and eerie feelings that emanate from the pages, as if something about the story is haunted in some way. That feeling is what drew me to the writing and simultaneously made me long for some lighter material to ease the emotional burden.
Even though the subject matter of the book was serious, it didn't always need such a somber tone. I think that had there been some comic relief weaved into the storyline, I would have enjoyed the story more. I had hoped for an uplifting ending but the reality was a bittersweet one, which perhaps was the author's intentions all along.
Overall, I think that this is a successful debut with respect to the excellent writing and plot development. I look forward to reading more from Miriam Gershow in the future!
BIG THANKS to Random House for my review copy.