Book Review: American Girls by Alison Umminger

by - 5:48:00 PM

Title: American Girls
Author: Alison Umminger
Pages: 304
Genre: YA Contemporary
Release Date: 07 June 2016

From Goodreads: "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."

Thank you to Flatiron Books for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for review!

It may be a little crazy to rate a book before even holding it in your hands, but I knew American Girls was a 5 star book the second I saw the cover. To be honest, I saw the UK version first (My Favourite Manson Girl) and the title is what caught my eye. I am a lover of all things horror and serial killer related, so I couldn't let this book slip through my fingers. Sadly, it was only available to the UK on NetGalley and I nearly gave up on getting my hands on this beauty. But I took a chance and contacted Tricia at Flatiron Books and, by some miracle, I was sent a copy of the US version, American Girls!

I read this book in two sittings and can safely say it takes the number one spot as my favorite book of 2016.

American Girls is so much more than just a book about the Manson murders. In fact, that almost takes a back seat to Anna's story, although it is still woven into the book very well. I connected with Anna on such a personal level that I have never felt with a main character before. I was able to relate to so many of her feelings and experiences and really immerse myself into her story and it allowed me to read the book on a much deeper level. This is a book that, once I finished, I immediately wanted to start back at the beginning because I wasn't ready for it to end.

I will admit that what initially drew me to this book was the bit about the Manson girls, but after I started reading, it was Anna and her story that kept me going. Even though she is 15 and I'm 23, I was still able to understand why she felt the way she felt about things, and it reminded me a lot of when I was younger and upset about my life basically being turned upside down. Anna was such a deep character and I loved reading from her point of view and how she saw the world of Los Angeles and just life in general. She was a lot smarter, more opinionated, and very aware of the things that were happening around her, and it made for such a wonderful story. When the book was over, I really felt like I was losing a part of myself simply because of how invested in the story I was.

Not only was Anna a wonderful main character to follow, the writing of Alison Umminger is so refreshing and unique that I found it incredibly hard to put down the book once I started. Her writing style is so descriptive and it really felt like I was following Anna around LA on to movie sets and up by the Hollywood sign and even to Dex's apartment. Umminger really has a way of drawing you in and almost putting you in Anna's shoes, and it makes it so much fun to follow her story when you feel like you're there with her.

While the Manson girls weren't at the forefront of the story. their story was being told right alongside Anna's, and I feel like I learned so much more about them. I could see the parallels between Anna and the Manson girls, despite their stories being completely different, and I really enjoyed that Anna was able to see them for more than just the crazy murder family that a lot of people may see them as. I feel like Anna could see the similarities between her and the girls, and that she actually began to sympathize with them and almost understand why they were the way they were. I loved watching Anna grow as a person from start to finish and can safely say that she is one of my all-time favorite main characters in a book.

American Girls is a beautifully written tale of being young and impulsive, as well as growing up and learning how to handle the rough spots that life puts you through. The is such an important book that everyone needs to read and I really feel that it has made a huge impact on my life like no book has before. This was an absolute treat to read and I highly recommend to anyone and everyone to go pick up American Girls as soon as it comes out!

Thank you, Alison Umminger, for putting out such a beautiful book.

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