Thursday, November 26, 2015

2016 Most Anticipated - American Girls

Today's book is one that caught my attention almost immediately. There was buzz about the voice in this one, and how amazing the main character is. I had also heard that the writing was incredible. Combine this a really attention grabbing hook and it was one I knew I needed to include on this list.

While Anna may be researching the Manson Girls, the Goodreads synopsis show that there is much more to this novel, and it's main character, than might appear at first glance.
She was looking for a place to land.
Anna is a fifteen-year-old girl slouching toward adulthood, and she's had it with her life at home. So Anna "borrows" her stepmom's credit card an runs away to Los Angeles, where her half-sister takes her in. But LA isn't quite the glamorous escape Anna had imagined.

As Anna spends her days on TV and movie sets, she engrosses herself in a project researching the murderous Manson girls—and although the violence in her own life isn't the kind that leaves physical scars, she begins to notice the parallels between herself and the lost girls of LA, and of America, past and present.

In Anna's singular voice, we glimpse not only a picture of life on the B-list in LA, but also a clear-eyed reflection on being young, vulnerable, lost, and female in America—in short, on the B-list of life. Alison Umminger writes about girls, sex, violence, and which people society deems worthy of caring about, which ones it doesn't, in a way not often seen in YA fiction 
This synopsis gives me hope that this will be a story of hope, finding yourself, and that it may leave you looking at those girls who are lost (in all sorts of ways) differently. It certainly seems to promise that and more within it's pages.

Alison kindly took some time to dish on her novel, whip up some ice cream, and surprise me with some details about the research she did.

1 Describe American Girls using only three words.

Dark, funny, hopeful

2 If someone were to make a signature ice cream in honour of your book, what might be included?

Definitely mint and chocolate with sprinkles -- frosty but fun.

3 Let us in on one secret about one of your characters, or the world they inhabit.

Hmmmm-- well, I would say that most of the characters have secrets -- Anna, my main character, is both a little more cruel and a little more vulnerable than she seems at first.

4 Was there anything surprising you discovered while researching your novel?

Since I was researching the Manson murders, there were plenty of surprises.  One of the biggest surprises for me was realizing that most of the Manson girls were genuinely sorry for what they'd done, given the passage of time.  Not that remorse is necessarily redemptive, but I think it's easy to be cynical about who these women were -- and many of them were what we'd think of as "regular" girls.  I was also surprised that Sharon Tate's baby was buried with her, that he had a name alongside hers on their gravestone.  That really broke my heart, and I gave that moment of sadness and surprise to Anna in the novel.

5 If you could travel to anywhere, in any time period, when and where would you want travel?

1940s Hollywood would be hard to beat -- all those super-glamorous movies stars and crazy noirs being filmed -- I would have been happy to tuck myself into the corner of a set and just watch.

6 What 2016 release are you most anticipating?

I recently read Meredith Russo's IF I WAS YOUR GIRL and I'm excited to see it move into the world -- about a very sweet transgender girl living in the rural South.  A really great read and so smart and heartfelt.

7. If not too spoilery, can you share the first line of American Girls

First line of AMERICAN GIRLS:  "My first Manson girl was Leslie Van Houten, the homecoming princess with the movie-star smile."

That opening line already has me dying to read more, and the level of details gathered during the research phase of this book. I have a feeling this one is going to be both heart wrenching and heartfelt.

American Girls releases June 7, 2016 and can be pre-ordered right now from any retailer.

You can also follow Alison on Twitter, and find out more about her books on the publisher website.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow to find out the next book that made this year's list!

This novel has ties to real life events, and even has the main character researching the past. What do you think of novels that twist real events into the story? Let me know in the comments.

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