Saturday, July 9, 2016

American Girls by Alison Umminger

AMERICAN GIRLS was a quirky, interesting read. It's about a girl named Anna who has a massively dysfunctional family. Her mother had a midlife crisis after she came out as a lesbian, only to have yet another inseminated child. Her father is married to a woman half his age. And her sister, Delia, is off in LA somewhere, making a tenuous living as a bit actress.

After a high school prank goes terribly wrong, Anna decides she can't take anymore and it's to LA she flees, to a sister who isn't all that pleased to see her and is busy wrestling with demons of her own.

Anna is a flawed heroine in the best sense of the word - she's self-conscious, awkward, selfish, and yet, she really does try to be a good person. It just takes her a while. She's also morbid as hell, and has a dark sense of humor that made me cackle while also looking around guilty, like maybe I oughtn't to laugh.

I noticed that the UK version is titled MY FAVOURITE MANSON GIRL and this title actually makes sense, because Manson is one of Anna's morbid interests and at one point during her stay in LA, a creepy indie producer actually hires her to do some research about Manson and his gang and give him her thoughts about the girls and the cult and everything. AMERICAN GIRLS, on the other hand, seems a bit vague, and its reference in the story isn't all that crucial, whereas Manson is.

AMERICAN GIRLS actually reminds me of a book I used to love in high school. It was called BLISTER by Susan Richards Shreve, and it was also about a girl making her own way in the world after a traumatic family event. Both books deal with being a poseur, bullying, selfish parents, and travel, set against the backdrop of typical YA coming-of-age themes.

Give it a read. If nothing else, it'll make you laugh inappropriately. Thanks for the free copy, Netgalley!

3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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