A world-famous actor (a former Disney Channel star who’s back for a reunion special—think Ryan Gosling meets Justin Timberlake) walks into the small-town Florida bar where three 19-year-old friends are drinking their way through another dull night.
He is, as narrator Maggie puts it, “a man who couldn’t part his hair differently without people demanding a press conference to fawn over him for it.” And now he’s at The Shamrock on what turns out to be the last night of his glamorous life. This is not a spoiler—it’s on page one.
In Local Girls, Henry Holt editor Caroline Zancan’s funny and poignant debut novel, Maggie, Nina and Lindsey are dead-end girls living in the recession-rotted Orlando suburbs. They didn’t do well in school and don’t really have any plans now that they’ve graduated. But as they get progressively drunker with Sam Decker, the story of their friendship unfolds.
None of them are flying these days—Nina is teaching Jazzercise at the local gym, Lindsay still lives at home with her dad and many brothers, and Maggie wants nothing more than to ditch her boyfriend and coffee shop job and head, well, anywhere but here. A prank gone horribly wrong alienated them from the fourth member of their group, Lila, and when she walks into the bar that night, we start to learn more about how they came to this moment in their young lives.
Local Girls is an achingly good, ennui-drenched story of friendship and shared history in the humid depths of Florida. It’s a perfect summer read about the moment when, just like that, you’re an adult.