Tag Archives: The Local News

Winner of THE LOCAL NEWS

Congratulations to the winner of the paperback copy of The Local News, by Miriam Gershow. Random.org picked Sandy Jay – enjoy the book!

Giveaway: Miriam Gershow, THE LOCAL NEWS

Gershow Last June, the EDIWTB online book club read The Local News, by Miriam Gershow. It's the story of Lydia, a girl in high school in Michigan whose popular, cruel brother disappears during his senior year. Here is my review and the book club discussion, and also Miriam Gershow's guest post about why she set The Local News in high school.

The Local News just came out in paperback, and Miriam Gershow has generously offered to give away a copy of the paperback version. I really enjoyed this book – in my review, I wote that "I was simply blown away at times by Gershow's writing talent, rereading phrases and passages that were beautifully expressive and also dead-on accurate."

If you'd like to win the copy of The Local News, leave me a comment below (and be sure to leave your email address). Random.org will pick a winner next Friday, March 19.

Guest Post By Miriam Gershow, Author of THE LOCAL NEWS

Miriam Gershow, whose The Local News was discussed on Monday as EDIWTB's June book club, has written a guest post for EDIWTB today about why high school is a natural setting for her works. I was particularly excited to read this post, because of my own fascination with books set in high school. Thanks, Miriam!

Just like my narrator Lydia Pasternak in The Local News, this past August I had the opportunity to attend my high school reunion. In my case, it was a twenty year reunion, while Lydia faced her tenth.  In both of our cases, we met the idea with deep, deep ambivalence.

By all accounts, I’m a successful grown-up.  I wrote a novel.  I have a community of beloved friends.  I married a lovely man.  We have an extremely spoiled cat and a baby on the way.  I’m surrounded by all sorts of the adult accoutrements that signal having one’s life more or less together: a rotating spice rack, a semi-attached garage, a knife block, a mortgage.  So you would think the prospect of a high school reunion would fill me with glee or at least benign curiosity. 

But unlike Lydia, I skipped my reunion.  Just like I skipped the five year and the ten year reunions before that.  In fact, proverbial wild horses couldn’t have dragged me back to the crowded suburban Detroit bar where dozens upon dozens of my former classmates gathered.

Why?

Short answer: High school was hard. 

Longer answer:  It was achingly, crushingly hard.  I spent four years not knowing how to control my frizzy hair or my acne, nursing unbearable crushes on the most inopportune of boys, and walking the halls with slumped shoulders, hoping that no one would pay too much attention to my boobs (while secretly hoping everyone would pay attention to my boobs).  To say I didn’t fit in would be a radical understatement. I was brainy without being a star student, loud without being particularly charming. I had no business near either a curling iron or eye-shadow, both of which I abused regularly.  I was the girl who always had the visible line of foundation demarcating her jaw from her neck.  I was the girl who wore the off-brand imitations of fashionable clothing several seasons too late.  I was the girl who drank lots of wine coolers at parties because I thought being drunk made me at least ten times funnier and cuter.

And even as I approach 40, with above-mentioned career and friends and home and partner, I still can’t entirely shake that poor girl.  Some part of me remains convinced I’m still that gangly, ill-fitting, awkward teenager.  And that part of me runs wildly in the opposite direction when a reunion is mentioned. 

Interestingly, that part of me also regularly returns to those same–or roughly similar–high school hallways in my fiction writing.  The high school experience left such an indelible imprint on me, I now have an insatiable curiosity about the social jockeying, the thrumming insecurities, and the high drama that is so peculiar to those four years. 

The characters in my fiction are often teenagers.  I’ve never been a young adult writer, but I have returned again and again to young adult characters in my work.  One of my favorite early stories, Little Girl, looks at the burgeoning sexuality and the early stirrings of rebellion in a high school girl.  The Local News is rife with the shifting politics and strange insularity and group hysteria of high school life. 

On the most personal level, I return again and again to this setting to try to better understand and make peace with the gangly girl trapped inside of me.  On a more practical and writerly level, high school simply makes for great source material. 
The factors that make it so traumatic in reality–you’re trapped in a building with hundreds of other hormone-laden, erratic teenagers, you have no clear escape, you can’t imagine it ever ending–make it such a potent backdrop for fiction.  Teenagers are wonderful to write because they are so emotionally labile, but without all the sophisticated coping mechanisms that adults adopt to mask those emotions.  This makes for great drama.  The stakes are always high in high school.  The conflicts are ever-present.  You don’t even have to scratch the surface; the conflicts are the surface, whether those have to do with popularity, status, drugs, bullying, peer pressure or sex, just to name a few. 

I have real compassion toward my high school characters.  I developed great love for Lydia and all of her Franklin High classmates.  I vividly–maybe too vividly–remember what it was like to be 15, with little hope of things ever changing.  Over and over, I try to write my way back into that experience and out the other side of it.  Maybe I succeeded with The Local News because I’ve gotten the subject out of my system for now; my current project is a novel that has almost nothing to do with high school.  Maybe this means come my 25-year reunion, I’ll be ready to show my face.  I doubt it, but perhaps I’ll lock away the eye shadow and the curling iron just to be safe.

June Book Club: THE LOCAL NEWS by Miriam Gershow

EDIWTB was lucky to be chosen as one stop of the TLC Blog Tour for Miriam Gershow’s debut novel, The Local News, which is also the June EDIWTB book club selection. The tour is kicking off here on this blog today, and will be hosted by many other great book bloggers later this summer, including Lisa of Books on the Brain and Stephanie’s Written Word. Click here for the full schedule.

Local-news The Local News is about Lydia Pasternak, a 16-year old high school student whose older brother Danny disappeared at the start of his senior year. While her parents sleepwalk through their grief, oblivious to their daughter, Lydia tries to come to terms with the disappearance of a brother about whom she was deepy ambivalent. Although the two were once close, Danny’s jock-like, often brutish behavior contrasted with Lydia’s brainy, antisocial personality, and he was a rather negative, menacing presence in lher ife as she entered high school. His disappearance causes shifts in Lydia’s status – for lack of a better word – at school, as she turns into an object of attention and often-unwanted sympathy from those who knew her brother (but who had ignored her in the past).

I really, really enjoyed this book. Although it is told rather simply from Lydia’s perspective, I think it’s a complicated book. There’s a lot going on – the mystery of what happened to Danny, the effect of his disappearance on his family, Lydia’s search for identity in a household in which she is practically invisible, the question of whether one is obligated to love their family members. Gershow’s explorations of the ways in which public and private grief intersect – who is truly allowed to mourn the loss of this boy? who really knew him? – and her meticulous analyses of the politics of high schools and small communities were very compelling. She is an excellent writer. She is incredibly observant and eloquent in describing mannerisms and emotions, and she developed her characters beautifully.

While I wanted to learn what happened to Danny, of course, this isn’t really a mystery, nor is it a grisly tale. It’s a sad story, to be sure, but there are many universal themes raised in the book that make it more of a coming-of-age book than anything else. The postscript of the book takes place 12 years after Danny’s disappearance, at Lydia’s high school reunion, and provides some interesting perspective on the main events and characters in the book. I found myself reading this section very closely, absorbing every detail with great interest as I learned what had happened to Lydia in the intervening years.

I was simply blown away at times by Gershow’s writing talent, rereading phrases and passages that were beautifully expressive and also dead-on accurate. I am very much looking forward to Gershow’s future books.

Gershow has agreed to answer questions about the book in a later post, and will also be guest-blogging on EDIWTB later this week. So please feel free to include any questions for Gershow in your comments below, so that she can address them later. (My questions are: 1) I found the character of Bayard to be a bit underdeveloped, compared to the others in the book. What do you consider his role to be, and why couldn’t it have been played by David Nelson? Was his indifference his most important feature?  2) I’d love to hear about how you were inspired to write this book. Is there a real-life story that got the plot going in your mind?).

Looking forward to the discussion!

EDIWTB June Book Club: THE LOCAL NEWS by Miriam Gershow

I am happy to announce – very far in advance – the June EDIWTB book club pick: The Local News by Miriam Gershow. I wrote about The Local News in February, and I was excited when I was approached by TLC Book Tours to participate in a blog book tour for it this summer.

First, a little bit about the book. From Amazon:

Local-news 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. Lydias 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. Gershows 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.

I've been wanting to read this book ever since I learned about it.

So here's the deal. I have 12 copies of The Local News to give away to EDIWTB reader who want to participate in the online book club, which will take place here on Monday June 15th. So I will do a giveaway for the 12 copies. If you are interested in participating, please leave me a comment here with your email address. I will do a random drawing a week from today – Thursday May 1. If you want to participate but you don't get one of the 12 copies, then I hope you will buy a copy or find it at your local library and support Miriam Gershow and her first book!

Click here to read an exceprt from the book, and visit Miriam Gershow's website. And please enter the giveaway if you want to participate!

THE LOCAL NEWS by Miriam Gershow

Another book set in high school. Are we all obsessed, or is it just me?

I read about The Local News, by Miriam Gershow, in Marie Claire this month. Here's the short blurb:

Gershow You'd think a 15-year-old girl would be devastated if her older brother suddenly disappeared without a trace. Not Lydia Pasternak. She never really liked her bro, a dumb jock who picked on her and called her Titless Wonder. Lydia's almost glad he's gone, especially since his disappearance has made the nerdy brainiac newly popular. Beneath this darkly humorous tale of loss is a keen look at the painfully stratified world of high school, and a reminder that just because we're supposed to feel sad doesn't mean we always do.

Janet Maslin at The New York Times also reviewed The Local News. She wrote:

[T]his 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. Ms. Gershow captures the awkward, cringe-worthy friendship between Lydia and David, a good-hearted but charmless classmate who shares her interest in parsing African politics and is as old-shoe familiar to Lydia as he is nerdy. Lydia depends on him without exactly liking him. What she doesn’t realize is that she will never have such a fond, easy friendship again.

I saw some good posts about The Local News on Goodreads, but I am assuming it's not kosher to quote them here because it's a closed community (book bloggers – am I right?).

Has anyone out there read this yet? I'm definitely intrigued.