Published by Penguin, Riverhead Books on June 30, 2015
Genres: adult, Contemporary Women, Fiction, Friendship
Source: Paperback ARC from Publisher
One of People's Summer's Best Books
The first person to break your heart isn’t always your boyfriend. Sometimes it’s your best friend.
Maggie, Lindsey, and Nina have been friends for most of their lives. The girls grew up together in a dead-end Florida town on the outskirts of Orlando, and the love and loyalty they have for one another have been their only constants. Now nineteen and restless, the girls spend empty summer days bouncing between unfulfilling jobs, the beach, and their favorite local bar, The Shamrock. It’s there that a chance encounter with a movie star on the last night of his life changes everything.
Passing through Orlando, Sam Decker comes to The Shamrock seeking anonymity, but finds Maggie, Lindsey, and Nina instead. Obsessed with celebrity magazines that allow them a taste of the better lives they might have had, the girls revel in his company. But the appearance of Lila, the estranged former member of the girls’ group, turns the focus to their shared history, bringing all their old antagonisms to the surface—Lila’s defection to Orlando’s country club school when her father came into some money, and the strange, enchanting boy she brought into their circle, who fundamentally altered dynamics that had been in play for years. By the night’s end, the escalation of these long-buried issues forces them to see one another as the women they are now instead of the girls they used to be.
With an uncanny eye for the raw edges of what it means to be a girl and a heartfelt sense of the intensity of early friendship, Local Girls is a look at both the profound role celebrity plays in our culture, and how the people we know as girls end up changing the course of our lives.
Local Girls is a standalone adult fiction novel that I think has great crossover appeal to the new adult age group. Local Girls is told mostly in the past tense and centers around a group of 3, used-to-be 4, friends. They live outside of Orlando, which was fun for me as I am getting to be pretty familiar with the area. They are 19 for most of the events in the story, but the narrative voice is older, looking back on that summer. Because of this age gap between the characters and their older selves, I think Local Girls had a really unique perspective- one that readers in their late teens, twenties and beyond will all appreciate.
Caroline Zancan was very methodical in her writing. It was descriptive and precise. It read almost like a memoir to me. Within the first few pages, you could actually feel the all encompassing heat that is Florida in the Summer. (then again, maybe that is because I am currently living that very heat out, but I am attributing it mostly to Caroline’s writing ability.) Nina, Lindsey, and Maggie (and sometimes Lila in the past) are locals that frequent the Shamrock Bar. And then one night a celebrity, Sam Decker, comes into the Bar. What I liked most about Local Girls was the mysterious feel of the book. Right from the very start, you know that something happens to Sam, and pretty soon after you also know that there are some secrets hidden in the past with Nina Lindsey and Maggie- but you don’t know what they are for a long time. Local Girls very slowly peels back these secrets and mysteries one small layer at a time. The result is a really interesting, but albeit slow and kind of meandering story. The book is short, coming in at under 300 pages, but don’t let that fool you. Local Girls is not a book that you can breeze through in 2 hours. Caroline Zancan’s writing is dense (in a good way) and forces you to really savor her words.
I liked all the characters, and you can’t help but feel for them. I thought the dichotomy of celebrity v. locals was interesting and seeing them interact with in the Shamrock were my favorite scenes in the story. The girls are each very different as well. Nina is totally crass and inappropriate. She took some getting used to for me, but I liked that each of the girls in the group had a distinct personality. Local Girls is a powerful read. Everyone is fighting some unseen battle, and Local Girls lets you peek into the window and get to know this group of friends and a celebrity and witness each of their battles. It is all at once heartbreaking, beautiful, and an important novel.
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Note: This book satisfies COYER Scavenger Hunt item #76- Read a book set in the state you live (Orlando, Florida)
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