The Local News by Miriam Gershow

Title:  The Local News
Author:  Miriam Gershow
Release date:  February 24, 2009
Publisher:  Spiegel & Grau
Pages:  384
Genre:  Adult fiction
Source:  Author

Fifteen-year-old Lydia Pasternak’s older brother Danny has just disappeared, and overnight her life changes.  She was once practically invisible in her own family, overshadowed by her popular, athletic, fun older brother, and now she is the only one her parents have to pay attention to.  She was once invisible in her school, too, but now everyone wants to talk to her about Danny, wants to get her perspective on what might have happened to him, how she is feeling, how her parents are holding up.  Although Lydia’s feelings about Danny have always been mixed, she finds herself caring deeply about learning where he is, and becoming involved in the investigation.  As time passes without answers, Lydia’s life goes on, completely different from before, yet so much the same.  And when Danny’s whereabouts are finally revealed, Lydia is changed forever.

Can I just say how much I loved Lydia in this novel?  What struck me most about The Local News was how refreshingly real Lydia’s character was.  She and Danny hadn’t gotten along for years, in fact he was her biggest tormentor, always making fun of her, hurting her physically, encouraging his friends to do the same, etc.  So it only makes sense that upon his disappearance Lydia didn’t really know how to feel.  On the one hand, he’s her brother, of course she’s upset and wants to find him, but on the other hand, it’s quite a relief not to worry about what kind of mood he’s in all the time.  The way Lydia navigated between these two extremes of emotion in the wake of Danny’s disappearance rang so true to me, and I loved that about her.

While the focus of The Local News is Lydia, the other characters were well-drawn too.  Her parents, while seemingly absent from her life throughout the book, reacted in the way any parent would react if their golden child disappeared from their lives.  And I liked that Gershow made no fuss about the fact that Danny was their “favorite” – in some families, that’s just the way it is, and Lydia’s parents clearly placed more importance on Danny’s well-being than Lydia’s.  Perhaps they felt that Lydia could take care of herself, that she didn’t need them as much as her brother, or perhaps his personality was just easier to love than Lydia’s, whatever the reason it was apparent that Danny was the star of the family.  And I loved the authenticity of this family, as heartbreaking as it was for Lydia.

What impacted me the most about this story, as I closed it for the last time, was all of the unanswered questions. The reader does learn what happened to Danny, but there are so many what if’s about the ending.  I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t get into the specific questions I had, but let’s just say that I was left thinking about this novel for a long time.  And for me, that’s a great place to be after finishing a book.

I am not sure that my review did justice to how much I loved the experience of reading The Local News, but I do know that it is a fantastic novel and a must-read.  I highly encourage you to pick it up for yourself.

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22 thoughts on “The Local News by Miriam Gershow

    1. It certainly wouldn’t be a bad choice for the young adults, as the narrator is a 15 year old girl and it deals with the disappearance of a 17 year old guy. However, the way the book is written is very different from most YA fiction – I don’t want to say “deeper” because plenty of YA is very deep, but it’s just a different style than YA typically is. More… literary I guess? I don’t know. But still, I wouldn’t shy away from giving it to a teenager.

      1. Heather – Thanks for the great review! I’m delighted that you loved Lydia and the book.

        LO – I’ve been asked this question a lot. I personally know a couple of teenagers who have really liked the book, even though I wrote it as an adult novel. High school is a central setting, so certainly there is material teens can relate to. And when I was a teenager, I read adult lit. However, I always tell younger readers that the book is very interior – much time is spent in Lydia’s head – and as Heather mentioned, there are no easy resolutions to issues. Certainly, I think younger readers can still enjoy/appreciate it, though. There’s an excerpt on my website, so teens can check out the beginning to see if they like it.

  1. I liked this one a lot too – Lydia is a fantastic character. My thinking was that the novel could cross over to a select YA audience, but it was primarily written for adults – and I appreciated that. Glad you enjoyed reading this – excellent review, Heather!

    1. I agree with you about it being written for adults, but could easily be handled by many teens. And also, Lydia IS a fantastic character. I felt for her completely.

  2. This sounds like a good read. I like that Lydia is conflicted about the disappearance of her brother. I think it’s true to how someone in her situation would really feel. Great review.

    1. Yes, and that internal conflict is written so accurately and astutely, it was as believable as it could have been. I hope you get a chance to read it soon because it is a fantastic novel. 🙂

  3. did the narration work even though lydia is 15? i’ve read several books with younger narrators who just aren’t authentic for me–it’s always a worry.

    i’m interested to find out what happened to danny–don’t leave me hanging!

    1. Yes, the narration definitely worked. Probably because she is such a mature teen, she understood a lot of things that other teens might not have. But at other times, it was clear she was only 15 from the way she looked at certain issues and stuff.

  4. I like book that have you thinking well after you’ve tunred the last page. I think you did it justice 🙂

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