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Quirky Review of “Here on Earth” by Alice Hoffman…

And a side trip on writing memoir

Georgia NeSmith
10 min readDec 30, 2021

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Before you read this “rather odd” review (what some might call “self centered”), I want to call attention to the 5 stars I gave it. Any negatives in this review have more to do with what I look for in novels on a personal level, rather than the quality of the book as a whole, on its own merits.

A fair warning: I do not say anything here…even minimally…about the plot, except for the ending, which merely hints in a quite vague way as to what is likely to follow. This is me: I want more than a hint at future direction. I want it to be definite. But that is my own quirky desire and apparently is not shared by a wide variety of authors, editors, publishers, and readers. But hey…nothing says my review has to take up “universals.”

The one “legitimate” (as in “not personal”) criticism I have is that too many plot twists (perhaps “turns” is a better word) have insufficient transitioning into the “new” — twists/turns that figure into the core of the story, but in my view are dealt with too swiftly. Especially compared with how fully those changes affect the characters’ lives. I find that swiftness of change characteristic of several of the many Hoffman novels I have explored (and currently re-explore) before.

The Guardian, an Interview: Alice Hoffman: ‘For me, reading and magic always went together’

NOTA BENE: Please do not let the negatives below persuade you that I’m seriously critical of her writing as a whole. In fact, I love her work!

In this review I apply my own…well…“personal hopes,” rather than the usual “universal” literary expectations. It’s really about what I hope to find in a novel (or memoir — anything grounded in story-telling), but I often find wanting in contemporary literature: a fully developed “conclusion” (or rather, ending: conclusion sounds more like a research paper) that does more than hint at where the story beyond the ending can be reasonably expected to go, based on the plot as developed before the end.

Let me explain this better. Like so many of Hoffman’s other books I’ve read (a fairly long list, actually), the end leaves me wanting Hoffman to have written one more chapter, tying up all the loose ends in the…

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Georgia NeSmith

Retired professor, feminist, writer, photographer, activist, grandmother of 5, overall Wise Woman. Phd UIA School of Journalism & Mass Communication, 1994.