I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Local Girls: A Novel by Caroline Zancan
Published by Riverhead on June 30th 2015
Source: the Publisher
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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.
‘We loved one another purely, without the complications teenage girls so often bring to everything. But I wouldn’t be telling it right if I didn’t also tell you that it felt, by that night, that a sense of uneasy anticipation filled any room the three of us were in.’
Local Girls centers around the lives of three girls that have become reluctantly resigned to a monotonous life in their small hometown that sits on the outskirts of Orlando, Florida. Their jobs are ultimately unsatisfying and are only kept as a necessity since the majority of their time is spent at the local bar named The Shamrock. When they walked into the bar Saturday night, a bar that smelled of cheap beer and salty ocean air, the last person they ever would have expected to see sitting at the bar was an actual celebrity by the name of Sam Decker. Sam Decker, a celebrity the trio knew everything about him there was to know from celebrity magazines, changed their perception of everything and they saw the life they had already resigned themselves to from a fresh set of eyes. His presence changed everything.
Zancan creates an impressive analysis of multiple characters, the intricacies of friendship and ultimately the void left when those friendships unravel. Maggie, Lindsey, and Nina have been best friends for as long as they can remember. They weren’t always just a trio; their group used to number five. The presence of celebrity Sam Decker and his awareness of the animosity between the trio and a new girl that arrived at the bar that Saturday night stirred up questions of the past and what ultimately caused the rift. As the girls begin to share bits and pieces of their story with him, they begin to reevaluate how the simplest of actions caused them to get to where they are now and as the story progresses they begin to realize that maybe they aren’t quite as resigned to how their lives ended up as they once thought they were.
‘Maybe I had reached the point of drunkenness where you talk just to hear yourself and reckless ideas take shape, but it suddenly occurred to me that if even a movie star joining our table couldn’t change the routines and settings of our Saturday night, maybe we were doomed to a life where nothing ever changes.’
The addition of the celebrity character, which ultimately caused them to dredge up their full story initially, still managed to feel like an irrelevant inclusion since I felt these characters were already on the path of self-reflection. And while I loved how crass and unrepentant the trio was, the story coalesced into something much less intense than I had foreseen. I hoped for more for these characters; that they would overcome their small-town mentality and their complete acceptance of what they saw as their fate. This story will leave you only a twinkle of hope for these girls but it seems as if that’s the best we can hope for.