Wednesday, January 26, 2011

J. Kaye's Book Blog

The Local News by Miriam Gershow:

I quit the P.D. James book.  I loved her beautiful sentences, and I truly believe she is some kind of a genius, but the timing was off between the book and me.  The book was like a nice-looking, smart boy I once dated too soon after a messy break up, and I ended up feeling tired and sarcastic whenever he opened his mouth to speak, even though I knew I was the one with the problem.  The real issue is that I was too dim to keep up with the characters/plot without constantly flipping back to previous chapters, and I was reading the book on my Kindle iPhone app, of all crappy, impractical mediums.  So I quit.  Basta.  Done.  The book is good, though.  It'll find someone who treats it right.

But I quickly cuddled up with Miriam Gershow's The Local News, inconstant thing that I am, and proceeded to blow off my life until I finished the last page.  In The Local News, fifteen-year-old Lydia Pasternak struggles to survive the aftermath of her brother's mysterious disappearance.  As her parents and community grieve, Lydia wrestles with ambivalent feelings about life without her indomitably popular, sometimes cruel, older brother.  Lydia is an over-achiever, and she throws her energy into organizing any clues that might lead to her brother's recovery.  Her hunt for information causes her to tunnel into her own mind and heart, leading her to confront and make sense of a crumbled family dynamic that--if she's honest--predates her brother's disappearance.

This books was top notch.  Emotionally taut, painfully and deliciously pitch perfect, sharp, focused, darkly funny.  Not a word wasted--I did not happen upon a single skim-worthy paragraph.  At one point, Lydia  watches her grieving father and describes the things he mutters to his missing son when he thinks no one is listening, and I'm telling you:  the scene is grip-your-sides-and-rock-sad.  And yet, Lydia's highschooler-y musings are also so earthy and devastatingly true that I laughed quite a bit (and read out loud to myself) as well.  Why can't every book be this engaging?  I was convinced that Gershow had a brother who went missing, and that this book was a quasi-true tale, but nay.  I googled it.  I'm definitely looking forward to Gershow's next thing.

I know many of you reviewed this book a few months ago, and I wondered if you might link up those reviews below so that I can read through them and mentally muse with you, book-club-style.  Please and thank you.

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