(Spiegel & Grau, ISBN 978-0385-52762-3)
Lydia might not have been thrilled with her place in the world, but at least she knew what it was. She was the smart kid, one of the geeks at school, straight A's and with her lone friend, fellow nerd David, certainly not one of the popular kids.
Her brother Danny could not be more different. No longer the pal she remember from when they were little, seemingly over the summer, he became a different person. Bigger, louder, meaner. With a growth spurt and weight lifting, never the sharpest tack in the box, he now lived in the world of trophies, football games, swim meets and cheerleaders. Now he was one of the popular jocks that roamed the hallways at school, picking on the nerds like Lydia and David, while at home, he was the center of attention, family live revolving around his practices, his games, his achievements.
But in one day everything can change.
On that evening when Danny seemingly disappears into thin air, the world of 15 year old Lydia is turned upside down. Daily life revolving around the search for Danny, her parents seem to often forget she is there, that they need to provide things like food and clean clothes. They only come alive when the local reporters arrive for another interview they hope will result in a lead or when the groups of neighbors and schoolmates and community groups arrive for another search of the town, hoping for some clue.
"What we were doing now was not a forward march together. It was something else entirely: biding our time, counting the days, silently gnashing and moaning beside one another."Even stranger for Lydia, perhaps, is her new situation at school. She is a center of attention, adopted by many of her brother's friends, invited to the parties of the 'in' crowd. And on top of it all, she has a serious crush on Denis, the private detective her parents have hired. Her world will never be the same again.
But maybe worse of all she is not always sure that she misses Danny, not the often cruel Danny he had become. Certainly, she can't admit that to her parents or to Danny's friends. But Denis seems to understand.
"I mean, of course I miss him, because it's sort of miserable here now." ...Denis nodded at me slowly in his knowing way with the half smile, and I recognized that he was giving me silent permission, giving me an out. And it was titillating, his tendency to tread where so few others dared. Who else, I thought, was so willing to concede that Danny might be hard to miss?
"He was difficult." I said. "I mean, he was intense."
He nodded. "Sure. He sounds like he can be a piece of work."
Will we find out where Danny is, what happen to him or will it remain a mystery? And either way, will this family, and our narrator Lydia survive intact? "...I saw the world in its undeniable state, as a place that protected no one, that held nothing sacred, that pitted all of us against each other." Just a little cynical for a girl still in high school.
Well, I will tell you that we get a conclusion and I think it is a quite satisfactory one. The reason for that is that Lydia is a smart and wise and very interesting narrator and her view into this whole situation is fascinating.
Now my dear readers, I have, in the past, admitted that I seem to be increasing easily distracted and that I might not be the fastest reader in the blogsphere.
So as, a testament to how much I enjoyed this book, let me tell you that I started reading it one evening and finished it the next morning, distracted only by a need for sleep..and by the car that hit the pole down the street at 3 a.m., causing a transformer to explode...but I digress.
The Local News is another debut novel and a quite good one it is. I must admit that when I read what this books was about, I was not totally thrilled with the prospect of reading it. A disappearing child, a family falling apart; it sounded rather depressing and bleak. Once again, happily, I was wrong. The book is very well written, with totally believable characters, dealing with a nightmare situation and yet, perhaps because of Lydia unique point of view, without being hopeless or joyless or humorless. You will find a number of people out there comparing this book to another book I enjoyed, A Lovely Bones, including the New York Times, and I can see their point.
A very enjoyable, memorable book, that I am happy to give a strong recommendation to.
A look at some other reviews...
Stitch and Bear