Here on Earth, written by Alice Hoffman, is an everyday life story which belongs to the literary period of realism. Realism is often described as a movement in literature which presents life in a very practical way. Usually, works in this literary period contain characterization and plot as similar as possible to what is found in everyday life. Donna M. Campbell states, “Broadly defined as a faithful representation of reality or verisimilitude, realism is a literary technique practiced by many schools of writing” (Realism in American Literature, 1860-1890). Some characteristics of realism in American literature, declared by Richard Chase in The American Novel and Its Tradition, include the fact that characters are most important in the story line and are strongly influenced by their social class (quoted in Realism in American Literature, 1860-1890).
In Here on Earth it is clearly visible how social class affects the characters’ lives; especially how it affects Hollis’. Ever since his childhood, he was constantly judged because of his past and continues to be judged in his adult years by the way he became rich so rapidly and mysteriously. This novel presents events and actions which are seen in this world on a daily basis such as infidelity, abuse, alcoholism, and suicide, which make it clear that the storyline can in fact be a depiction of the present days and generations.
The writer of this novel, Alice Hoffman, is commonly known for her well developed characterization, her choice and use of language and realistic plot events. Born in New York City on March 16, 1952, Hoffman has become a very distinguished novelist. She attended Adelphi University and later the Stanford University Creative Writing Center.
Alice Hoffman wrote her first novel, Property Of, at the age of twenty-one. Up to date she has written a total of eighteen novels, two short fiction books, and eight children and young adult books. She has been praised by many, such as The New York Times, Library Journal, and The Boston Review. Her novel Here on Earth was picked as an addition to be discussed in Oprah’s Book Club in 1998, which made it recognized by many people around the world. Hoffman told Contemporary Authors the way she views her writing and the themes she focuses on.
“I think I most often write about women’s ability or inability to come to terms with their own identity and independence. For me Property Of is about victims who in turn victimize the women around them. The novel I am now working on, Esther the White, is about the relationship of a young woman to her family and their past in effort to begin a separate life. So I suppose my main concern in the search for identity and continuity, and the struggle inherent in that search.”
(Hoffman, Volume 77-80, 242)
Kerry Fried from The Boston Review describes Hoffman’s writing as a combination of fascination with wildness. He says that her characters...