Friday, June 17, 2016

American Girls by Alison Umminger

American Girls by Alison Umminger
Release Date - June 7, 2016
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 304 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
Many books have been written about the Manson girls, and I predict there will be many more. This, however, is not one of them. This novel is not about their crimes, nor is it really about them at its heart. This is, instead, the story of one girl that quickly becomes a story about every girl.

Alison Umminger's writing is razor sharp and filled with nuance. She's crafted a voice for Anna that is so resonate, so vivid that Anna becomes more than just a character. You feel as though Anna is telling you her story because her voice is that authentic. Characters like this allow you to be pulled into the story so fully that you becomes entranced. It is not often that I leave a novel knowing I will remember its distinct voice and this is one of the few.

The backdrop of Los Angeles for this story provided a striking setting, and added some additional depth to the story. There is something fitting about this particular story being told against the city where so many girls run away to in order to live their dreams only for them to face harsh realities. It is a city that can devour you and Alison Umminger shows its gritty underside that is there among the glitter. Even the setting has texture and there is a ethereal quality to how the settings and characters come together.

Anna is as sharp tongued as Alison's writing. She's cynical, and blunt. She uses her sarcasm as a defence and portrays this outer image of being less impacted by things than she truly is. There is a fragility to her, however, that sharpens her hard edges. I personally loved Anna and all her flaws. I predict, however, that like any well crafted, nuanced character that people will either love or hate her. She dares to be unlikeable at times, and that made her all the more real for me.

I've never thought of the Manson girls as anything other than the crimes they committed. Never wondered who they might have been before those horrific events. This novels show that some of them may have been lost girls. Girls who were broken and easily preyed upon. These girls were looking for love, validation and a feeling of belonging. Alison Umminger shows how easily, in different circumstances, girls could be lead down this path. We see various characters who share commonalities with these Manson girls, along with the subtle ways society leaves it mark on these girls. It shows the prevalent culture of being female being equated with being 'less than' allows for a sort of culture where women are subtly violated every day.

This is a story of girls. Girls who are lost. Girls who are found. Girls and the harm they can do to others and to themselves. Girls and the harm they have done to them by others, and society. Girls and their relationships with their families, friends and, most importantly, themselves. Pick this up for the splashy hook but stay for the brilliant writing and the exceptionally executed character development and voice.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love comments. Thank you for stopping by my blog and thank you even more for leaving me a comment.

I have decided to make this an awards free blog. I appreciate the gesture, and love that you thought of my blog, however I simply can't pass them along as required.

You Might Also Like

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...