“The Local News is the story of a life created around loss. Gershow’s book is deeply sympathetic, often painful, and always utterly believable. Not a book you’re likely to put down once started, nor to forget once finished, a remarkable achievement.” —Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club
“The Local News achieves two nearly impossible things: It’s a funny book about harrowing circumstances, and it’s a poignant book about high school. Gershow’s narrator, Lydia Pasternak, is droll, keen, and utterly engaging. I couldn’t put this novel down.” —Anthony Doerr, author of The Shell Collector and About Grace
“Miriam Gershow has a fresh, funny and very engaging voice and a powerful story to tell, and Lydia Pasternak is a character you’ll miss long after the book is finished. I was charmed from the first page and undone by the last.” —Beth Gutcheon, author of Still Missing and Good-bye and Amen
“Miriam Gershow is a graceful novelist. The Local News is sharp and tender, bitter and sweet. It is, in short, what the news reports rarely give us—the human story, the one that resides deep in the heart, in this case, of Lydia Pasternak, a young girl struggling to define herself in the days and years following her brother’s disappearance. Her journey kept me captivated to the end.” —Lee Martin, author of The Bright Forever and River of Heaven
Most of The Local News nominally takes place during Lydia's high school years. But this story is full of insightful, implicit hindsight as it illustrates how the trauma involving Danny will shape Lydia's adulthood and forever stunt her ability to get along with others…unusually credible and precise.
The New York Times
Bright, precocious but socially awkward Lydia Pasternak reports on the aftermath of her older brother's disappearance in Gershow's 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. Lydia's 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. Gershow's 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.
Gershow's first novel offers much more than one might initially expect. It's not merely about the emotional struggle awkward teenager Lydia Pasternak must endure after her brother Danny's unexplained disappearance-the story presents a fractured family that contained little love to begin with and now is forced to expose these flaws to a stunned community and hovering local media. At the time he goes missing, Danny is a popular athlete but also a dim-witted, selfish lout who has shunned and mocked his sister as his popularity has grown. Mr. and Mrs. Pasternak ignore brainy, precocious Lydia as they fervently search for their son, and Lydia becomes a sympathetic curiosity who grudgingly accepts the newfound attention. Amid a hurricane of emotions, Lydia too often finds herself feeling numb and bitter more than anything else. The result is a sad, bravely written story that elicits sympathy for the situation rather than any of the characters and demonstrates that not all tragedies have heroes. Heartily recommended for most fiction collections.
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
In her first novel, Gershow explores the emotional toll on the surviving sibling of an abducted teenager. Fifteen-year-old Lydia is a brainy nerd obsessed with geopolitics. Her older brother Danny is the popular jock. When he goes missing in August 1995, Lydia's parents are understandably overcome with grief and obsessed with finding him. Danny has been their favorite, or at least the one they could relate to more easily than dourly serious Lydia. Two years ahead of her in high school, Danny has treated Lydia with contempt for years. But when Lydia reads the outrageously misspelled note he wrote to a girl in one of his classes, she remembers the brother he was back in grade school. Academically challenged, he was also endearingly vulnerable, with an easygoing humor that cemented the family together. But then, after he finished ninth grade (for the first time), the family moved and Danny reinvented himself. Thanks to a sudden growth spurt and intense working out, he repeated ninth grade in his new school with a charisma and athletic prowess that made up for academic deficits. Despite brief flashes of his old sweetness, he was often mean to Lydia. Now his jock friends, who genuinely adored Danny, adopt her. Drawn into the popular, fast crowd, she abandons her geeky friend, loyal David. Meanwhile, Lydia's desperate parents hire a private detective. Lydia admires Denis's hard-boiled approach and answers his probing questions honestly. She develops a crush on him until she realizes his interest derives from suspicion. Eventually, Danny's body is found, and the sad facts of his murder revealed. However, Lydia does not come to a real understanding of her brother's death, and life, until herhigh-school reunion ten years later. While missing and murdered children have become a staple of popular fiction, Gershow keeps her approach fresh thanks to Lydia's disarmingly unsentimental narrative voice, which allows Danny to be more than a saintly victim. Agent: Emily Forland/Wendy Weil Agency