Title: The Local News
Author: Miriam Gershow
Recommendation: A character driven novel about loss and coping. Slow and impossible to put down at the same time. Two thumbs up.
Summary: Lydia Pasternak's older brother goes missing. Her parents become distant and uncaring, withdrawing into their loss. Smart, but not popular, Lydia suddenly becomes the center of attention at school. Dealing with all the changes is not easy given her strained relationships with parents, brother, closest friends, and everybody else around her.
Reactions: The Local News is not the type of fiction I typically read. But it came highly recommended and a gift at that, so I started on the book almost immediately. The first book that came to my mind as I started reading The Local News is The Lovely Bones which deals with a similar subject matter of a kidnapped child. There are a few interesting parallels between the two stories, such as the reactions of the families to the tragedy, but The Local News is told from a very different perspective than The Lovely Bones.
At the center of the story is Lydia, who is smart and bookish, but not particularly popular. She is very observant, but rather closed off and introverted. The story progresses with her family, detectives, and everyone in the town searching for her brother who was a popular jock at the same high school prior to his disappearance. Now his friends are suddenly nice to Lydia and her struggle to deal with the new situation and people to whom she was invisible before really strike the mark.
We follow Lydia into the dark recesses of her brain as she spirals down trying to deal with being alienated and the loss of her brother. It's not an action-packed story at all, but I was very much fascinated by Lydia's world and read late into the night unwilling to put the book down.
The supporting cast of the story is very well drawn. From Lydia's best friend David who surprises her by making advances to her brother-adoring Lola, there is a variety to characters and motivations. The relationships grow and change, interactions are nuanced, feelings are hurt and truces are made. This is a story about relationships down to its core.
All in all, a very enjoyable read and one I would recommend heartily. It's dark without being depressing and entertaining without being fast-paced. Only towards the end did I feel my incredulity a bit strained at some of Lydia's reactions. Overall though it's a well written story that is definitely worth reading.