My thoughts: How fabulous is the set-up to this book? I first heard about it as a "re-imagining of the last night of River Phoenix's death," but as I read I realized how common the accidental overdose death of talented young actors is, and I found myself imagining Cory Monteith in Sam Decker. I felt the emotions of Maggie, Nina, and Lindsey--it felt like the greatest night of their lives, even as the reader can see the signs of trouble in Sam Decker.
I'm drawn to stories about big, momentous nights. Most nights are incredibly ordinary, but some nights change your life and become part of your story. The night in Local Girls is one of those nights, albeit in different ways for each of the four main characters. Zancan balances the conversation and character insight well. Too often, however, there are lengthy flashbacks to middle school and high school. I found these passages overly long and increasingly dull. Mostly, the flashbacks weren't nearly as interesting as the interactions with Sam Decker. I kept wanting to get back to that night.
The verdict: I enjoyed the parts that took place on the night, but the flashbacks bogged down the narrative momentum. While the execution of this novel fell short for me, Zancan is a talented writer, and I look forward to seeing what she'll do next.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Length: 288 pages
Publication date: June 30, 2015
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