Megan Harlan
July 16, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Local Girls

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Alice Hoffman
genre
Fiction, Short Stories

We gave it an A-

While less magic realist than many of Alice Hoffman’s novels (Second Nature, Practical Magic), these 15 interlinked stories tracing the tumultuous coming-of-age of Long Islander Gretel Samuelson are nevertheless moving and deadpan funny. Throughout Local Girls, countless traumas befall Gretel’s family: Her father walks out, her witty mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer, and her older brother eschews Harvard for heroin addiction. But bursting through the dire events and the dingy tract-home setting are transformative spells of erotic and natural beauty. Epiphanies about passion, pain, and resiliency induce smiles and shivers in equal measure. A-

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