[download Prime] American GirlsAuthor Alison Umminger – Albawater.co

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 For once, a book's blurb is actually worthy of its contents.This book was surprisingly complex and enjoyable Yes, I am a skeptic, but for good reason I've largely stopped reading YA lately, but the premise of this one sounds weird enough, and the setting Los Angeles close to home enough to turn my eye.Being the jaded Southern Californian that I am, I'm pretty wary, and weary, of books that are set in SoCal The fact is that most books of this sort tend to sensationalize living in LA and Hollywood (spoiler alert from someone who's been there: it sucks, and downtown LA is nowhere near as impressive as TV shows and the red carpet would have you believe).Therefore, a book set in LA, with a focus on the Hollywood culture and the Manson murders really, really had its work cut out to impress me But impress me it did.Fifteen year olds, with all due respects to the fifteen year olds out there, are fairly difficult to bear in fiction I was one myself, many, many moons ago, and holy crap, I was fucking annoying A fifteen year old narrator is a difficult thing to execute well, and the main character in this book, Anna, was very wellwritten, believably immature, and unique, without being grating I felt like I understood her frustration, her fixation with certain things like the Manson girls, her skeptical attitude towards her sister and most of the characters she meets in LA.The book's depiction of LA was welldone I don't live in LA proper, and with any luck, I never will, but I've been there often enough and I've worked there long enough to get a good feel of it Yes, the book has strange characters, but what you have to understand about LA is that there are strange characters in LA I've never lived anywhere else outside of SoCal except for my brief childhood in Vietnam, but from talking to my friends elsewhere, it'sacceptable to be different in LA It is so diverse here, there are people from all walks of life, people who are straight, gay, etc People who wear normal clothes People who don't One just doesn't even notice them any, because they're not a weird person In LA, they're just a person One doesn't consider the difference, because of all the diversity In that sense, I don't find the book's depiction of LA outlandish.Anna's obsession with the Manson murders may seem strange and morbid, but it actually turns out to be a great theme There is an excellent commentary on the parallel between the lives of the Manson girls and the cost of fame in modern days Sharon Tate was just a name, or a beautiful blonde, or an actress, or the wife of a director, or another woman who really became famous only when her life was over When she went from being a body on a screen to a body in a bag I wanted the movie to bring her to life, but the camera seemed intent on making her nothingthan a beautiful face and a banging body It didn’t seem fair, not to her, at any rate It is a rare YA book that contains such depth in such a light manner. A YA contemporary about a fifteen year old girl who runs away to LA, soon getting lost in a research project involving the Manson girls, but she doesn’t fail to find the parallels between the two This is a coming of age novel told in an original, thoughtprovoking way.Anna decides to run away to LA after making some pretty big mistakes back home Her older sister Delia is barely making it by as an actress there Regardless spending the summer on film sets, hanging with lowlevel celebrities, and researching Manson girls sounds like a pretty sweet deal What she doesn’t necessarily expect is to notice all the similarities between her own life and those of the Manson girls.She realizes that these girls were really just ordinary girls who ran away to the wrong place (LA) at the wrong time (60s), ended up meeting the wrong person (Charles Manson), and so on Their lives could have been so much different Hell, any of us could have ended up a Manson girl When I really thought about it, I realized this could be the takeaway from this book That in the right circumstances, it could have been any of us Or even Anna.I kind of loved how the children’s TV show set Anna got to spend a lot of her time on was based on Disney’s Suite Life on Deck starring Zack Cody Those references certainly weren’t lost on me The older sister of the boys starring on the show was a version of the female child star gone bad..struggling to stay in the spotlight sort of thing Think Lindsay Lohan.I found Anna's voice to be too mature sounding, especially for someone who has so many immature moments Her voice was a bit precocious At times there was this added level of humor that helped to balance the darker moments There was something so simple about the plot I really enjoyed It feelslike the Manson girls are being used as a metaphor within the story Alison Umminger captured the setting of Los Angeles beautifully.This is a good one to pick up if you’re looking for an edgy YA coming of age story. Here's the backstory: I had the chance to request this book twice, I chose not to, but it ended up getting sent to me anyway And I'm so glad it did! It's so different from what I expected I tend to avoid glitzy stories about Hollywood like the plague; I live in LA and I worked in film for many years, so I'm thoroughly uninterested in what most people's idea of this town is like (usually gathered from TV or quick vacations or sexedup beach reads) But this story isn't anything like thatit's about a girl who runs away to LA, yes, but it's also deeply cynical, darkly funny, and somehow affectionate and wistful all at once The author doesn't live here (any?), and yet she expresses the kind of deep feeling and exasperation for this town that usually only people who have lived it and loved it would understand I think the threads connecting Anna's story to the Manson girls she's researching might've been explored just a touch , but overall, I really enjoyed this It has a moodier,subversive feel than any other young adult book I can think of, and would appeal to fans of literary fiction and mature YA More of a review to come But wow, another standout from the new YA imprint at Flatiron Books I'm thrilled to see this level of quality fiction being published for teens. Oh my, this is not the book I signed up for Except it one hundred percent is I wanted to see a different side of Los Angeles, and that’s exactly what Alison Umminger showed me AndIt just took some unexpected turns, that’s for sure.I’ve never been to LA Like many other people, I’ve made my opinion of it based on TV shows, movies, stars, etc But what I knew of LA prior to my ‘‘awakening’’ made me think that the media has fooled me once ! Damn!We all want to hide the ugly in everything We don’t like it We know it’s there, but we prefer to ignore it Maybe if we don’t acknowledge it, and don’t think about it, it will eventually disappear from our minds and, eventually, planet Earth.But Anna wants to see the ugly She decided to spend the summer with her sister in LA, her sister who is an amateur actress Because she stole money from her mother’s wife, she has to pay everything back Her new job? Read everything there is about the Manson girls and report back Now this is something else that surprised me Blame it on my age or my living in Canada, but I never heard of this case before Boy did I learn of it though, from this book Every little sordid detail, or so it felt Oh god, I can’t believe no one in my life has ever mentioned the Manson girls before While Anna does focus on the awful, she doesn’t judgementally describe the Manson girls exactly Instead, she tries to dig deeper, see both parties, and even lets us form our own opinion For instance, it was mentioned that the Manson girls regret what they have done, and that both surprised and perplexed me.But of course, this is not the only thing the story is about Anna’s relationship with her mother and sister is another element Working as a reader of everything Mansonrelated makes her realize that perfect relationships do not exist Because for a perfect relationship to exist, there must be perfect interactions and, ultimately, perfect people Such a hard book to put down Woah.Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google | Bloglovin’ I JUST GAVE A THIRTYFIVEYEAROLD EXCON A BLOW JOB DO I GET PAID EXTRA?Hello, perfect book.Guys, I'm already dying inside because I don't know how I can possible put my adoration for this book into words It's a YA contemporary that isn't focused on romance aka something I practically NEED if I'm going to enjoy it There's hardly even a plot, imo but it was addictive, realistic, and so honest On paper, everything about this book should be a clear no from me But I loved it anyway.I always pictured LA to be this perfect paradise where it was always warm and people were always happy But there's so much of LA that people don't know, and that I never did I remember on my 17th birthday, me and my sister (15 at the time) went to LA by ourselves and met up with 10 other friends We stayed at the Sheraton in freaking DOWNTOWN LA, and had a 25 year old rent us a car to drive around for a month please. just picture that It was actual insanity Fun, but complete insanity (Not even including the fact that my parents have no clue this trip ever happened.) I literally blew all my money, sat next to a boyband at Saddle Ranch, got robbed by a psychic, waited 4 hours for a pizza delivery, plus wayweird shit So long story short: LA's so much weirder than people think But anyway, Anna's whole running away at 15 and flying by herself was so relatable to me When life gets messy some people stick it out, and some people run Some people sell off all their parents old wedding gifts to pay for it (me), or some people like Anna, steal their stepmom's credit card And then sometimes they end up living with their beautiful, aspiring actress, and slightly messed up sister, Delia Delia aka the girl who sends Anna to work with her boyfriend, Dex, everyday as she works on a film with her creepy ex Throw in famous twin actors, getting paid to research the Manson girls, Anna's possibly psychotic mom and stepmom, and a possible stalker? Welcome to Los Angeles Will you be okay here by yourself tonight? Delia asked It's perfectly safe, just don't do anything stupid like unlock the door or go for a walk Remember, in LA pedestrians are just roadkill waiting to happen So basically: American Girls made me laugh like an idiot (it totally had my sense of humor), had honest conversations about parents, life, dreams, and the Mason girls, and was such an enjoyable read I could reread this book forever And I'm secretly hoping for a sequel that will probably never happen I can dream, right?sidenote: LA can be pretty normal too, obviously, i'm just pointing out that it is so much different than what a lot of people think It's still one of my favorite cities ever :)Thank you to Flatiron for the ARC :D *original review posted on my blog *I think American Girls/My Favourite Manson Girl is possibly the first book that I have felt as though I’ve read a totally different book compared to the large majority of reviews I don’t think I’ve read a single negative review for this book and yet somehow I just can’t connect the raving reviews, to the pages I read myself? It’s safe to say, I didn’t love this I had really hoped that I was going to I should have loved it since it had everything I love in a book, LA, Hollywood, Movies, Mystery, Romance but it didn’t take me long to realise that a romance between me and this book probably wasn’t on the cards I’m not entirely sure how to go about this review because I have so much to say and no real idea of how to say it, well, say it remotely coherently or eloquently that is Instead, I think I’m going to show rather than tell and simply leave it up to the quotes and words from the book themselves.Unless other wise stated, these quotes come from the main character Anna, who’s point of view we follow:Page 8 – “It had crossed my mind that my sister might be a slut, but a really nicesmelling, clean and carefully closeted slut.” – Anna consistently slut shamed her sister and other girls throughout the book.Page 10 – “Before mum decided she was a lesbian” – Because this is apparently something you can just ‘decide’? – A stigma and stereotype that doesn’t need any miseducation and one that was left unchallenged.Page 17 – “I started gettingandnervous, like I was having a panic attack So I Googled “panic attack” and decided that I didn’t want to start having those at fifteen.” – Again, because apparently this is something you can ‘decide’ – Another unnecessary and uneducated stigma being boosted and once again, left entirely unchallenged.Page 19 – “If someone had wired her jaw shut, she probably wouldn’t have had to change her diet.” // “When reality sunk in, I remembered that she ate salads without dress when she was starving and seemed to assume that I would just want to do the same.” – Anna made numerous comments regarding her sisters eating habits, all of which felt quite trivialising and slandering towards eating disorders, without going into any depth of the reality of them.Page 27 – “He had on tight black jeans, a black leather jacket, and had shaved his head into a cancervictim crew cut.” – I’m not sure I need to explain why, not only describing someone as having a ‘cancervictim crew cut’, but also using it mostly as an insult is honestly pretty gross and entirely unnecessary…Page 46 – “I was already thinking of the places I would apply for jobs, maybe the candy store near the lot where my sister was filming Or one of the ice cream stores with the trendy names and all the girls in line who looked like they kept that ice cream down for about 2.5 seconds.” – Once again, shaming eating disorders and using it as an insult.Page 54 – Anna’s older sister Delia: “Well, where to start – he’s biracial, but probably whiter than I am.” // Anna about Delia’s dating life: “when it came to actual dating, fratboy white was last year’s color In high school, she was strictly interested in black guys She found the one Nigerian exchange student to take to prom She once broke up with a perfectly nice biracial kid from the suburbs because he was “too white” I think Rodger slipped in because he had an accent and wore eye makeup on a semiregular basis By sheer virtue of his awesome command of Euroweird, she must have overlooked the pasty glow of his flesh Neve mind that she had a lack of pigment rivalled by the walking dead.”– I realise that, being white, I’m not really in any position to say whether or not this is categorically racist but this didn’t sit right with me It just seemed, once again, entirely necessary It didn’t add anything to Delia as a character and honestly feels pretty offensive and racist?Page 56 – “Marilyn Monroe in her fat phase” – Body shaming.Page 63 – Anna’s Mother: “we don’t know how cancer works I don’t know what caused this I don’t know what would make it come back or make it spread, but I do know I can’t have anystress in my life than I already have.” // “I can’t take the risk that having you hear might make the cancer worse.” – Yes Her mum essentially blamed Anna for causing her cancer Charming… Page 68 – “I thought you told me once there was no such thing as asexual Just a train from straight to gay with a whole bunch of stops in between.” – Asexual erasure is a very real thing and something I’ve only recently begun educating myself on This is not only erasure but I’m assuming offensive and once again left entirely unchallenged or revisited.Page 77 – “there were times when my mom seriously reminded me of a dykedout Blance DuBois.” – Not sure this needs explaining, nor did it need to be written into a book.Page 155 – “I would sit in the corner and listen in on people’s first dates, or the baristas bitching about who they thought was throwing up in the ladies’ room.” – Yet again, another trivialisation of eating disorders.Page 158 – “You don’t have to say anything, do you? You just want to because you have some anorexic teenager buying you pink shirts, and you’re too lazy to work now that the baby is born.” – ‘Anorexic’ being used as an insult, aimed at her fathers new partner.Page 161 – “How was I supposed to know perfect Paige Parker was a cutter? She was the popular one, what did she have to be mad about?” – Stigmatising self harm and mental illness These stigmas need to be bought down, not built up and left unchallenged.Page 214 – “I had breasts, enough that my bra wasn’t just one of those lacy things that flatchested girls get to be part of the club” – Another example of body shaming…Page 262 – “But if I had to write a memo to America on what to do to import the future, on how to go back and correct the past, it would be simple: Dear America: Please give your daughters sturdy bedroom doors that lock from the inside And when they are hungry, give them a place at the table It wouldn’t solve everything, but it would definitely be a start.” – Despite Anna realising that this wasn’t a solution to rape, the simplicity of the idea that ‘sturdy bedroom locks’ as a solution is what is needed, still left me uneasy.Given context or not, these passages just didn’t sit well with me at all and almost evenso than the quotes themselves, what bothered me was they were never challenged, apologised for, or (I personally feel) redeemed in anyway The first 60 pages made me genuinely uncomfortable and not in a good way, as though I was learning or being challenged Albeit the specific quotes were very saturated within the first 50 or so pages and by the end Anna wasn’t quite so angry at the world and the uncomfortable quotes began to spread outevenly but despite this, I just don’t see the necessity behind the targeted hate and insults There was homophobia, ableism and racism Cancer and Eating Disorders were being used as insults or as trivialising anecdotes I understand that Anna wasn’t meant to be a likeable character (or at least I assume so, or else I am totally confused at what was going on here) but I just feel as though there must be ways of portraying and creating an unlikeable character, without being outrightly offensive, potentially harmful to the reader, problematic or building up stigmas that people are constantly working hard to bring down You can make a reader dislike a character without potentially upsetting, miseducating or offending.All this put aside, I didn’t hate this book Did I enjoy it? No but I didn’t hate it Had these quotes been non existent, I probably would have given it around a 3/5 stars The plot intrigued me and despite my discomfort, I found myself wanting to read on I also did enjoy the scenes at the film sets and slight insight into that world But overall, American Girls felt like a book of subplots, none of which ever really came to head or had much of an impact or conclusionIt’s possible that I’m just being uber sensitive and nitpicking at the contents of this book and if that is the case, I fully put my hands up and apologise.I’m not sure I have too muchto add to this, well that’s not entirely true I think it’sof a fact that I think I could probably ramble on about this for pages and days but that’s probably not in anyone’s best interest, nor do I think it’s wise to stumble into the phase of being evenincoherent than I have probably already been So with that being said, I think I’m going to leave it here I have a review for this book on my blog as well, so whether or not you've read, I'd love to know what you think in the comments over there! JUST BE THE GIRL DO NOT KILL ANYONE.I JUST GAVE A THIRTYFIVEYEAROLD EXCON A BLOWJOB DO I GET PAYED EXTRA? everyone: me: everyone: me: (x)Yeah, I guess you could say I found this book funny *has a flashback to all my statuses of me laughing* okay, hilarious is probably the word I don't know what I could say about American Girls that hasn't already been perfectly said by many other reviewers That it's completely original? Unlike every other formulaic, pseudoteen book out there? Because it's all that andIt's told by the refreshingly witty and sarcastic Anna, who's just run away to LA It's a bildungsroman without sounding condescending and completely unrealistic And it's a story I could completely relate with This part of the review gets a little personal, so if you're not into that then just skip to the end.When I was in high school, my sister ran away She left everything, her credit card, her phone, everything and anything we could use to find her with It was one of the scariest, most traumatic times in my life We were really close and her leaving devastated me Amongst other things, she was having a lot of problems with our mom They would both get angry and hurt and just say the worst things to each other just to see who could hurt the other the most Times were shitty to say the least American Girls was a little different, and yet, just like Anna with the Manson girls, I still found ways to relate I understood Anna's perspective No child should ever be subjected to some of the things she was put through I also understood Cora's perspective It's not easy to be a parent (understatement) and sometimes you just fumble through it, thinking that you're doing the right thing, hoping that you're doing the right thing Witnessing it myself, I totally grasped how convoluted and complex the situation was End of personal time, you're safe now.American Girls conveys many important messages and deals with relevant topics that'll speak to everyone It's not about romance, or angst, or anything like that To be completely honest, I don't really know what it's about I just know that it's a mustread A novel that speaks volumes but has a humor that doesn't make this book suffocating And just for a second, maybe because it was California and you could understand how truly vomitworthy fame could be only when you were right up next to it, I almost, kind of, understood what it might have been like to be a Mason girl. Anna has had a miserable year Everything feels wrong with her life And rather than stay and face the mess, she steals a credit card and books herself a seat on the first flight out of town to Los Angeles, to crash with her sister But soon after she lands, cold reality soon dawns on her: Hollywood isn't the escape she needs She is trapped in a town full of lost souls and wannabes, with no friends, no cash and no return ticketWhen she's offered a job researching the murderous Manson girls for a dubious film, she reluctantly acceptsshe needs the money But soon enough, among the fake smiles and glitterfuelled parties, things turn from strange, to dark, to dangerous This is not going to be the summer Anna had in mind A pleasant surprise The plot is fresh and unlike anything I've read in YA I wasn't that wild about the Hollywood plot like until I opened the book The story is exactly the way it is described in the summary traipsing around movie and TV sets, rubbing elbows with celebrities, researching Manson girls And yet it all adds up to a very personal and intelligent story about being a young girl and doing stupid and sometimes unforgivable things for no good reason. Things at home haven’t been the same since Annas mom left her father, for another woman no less With a new step mom and baby in the family, Anna gets the feeling she’sof a tolerated nuisance then beloved member of the family So when Anna decides to “borrow” her stepmom’s credit card to score a plane ticket to glamorous LA to visit her sister Delia, it’s no surprise that they seem to beconcerned about the money then her She’s to stay for the summer, work to repay her debt and come home before school begins Scoring a research assistant job on an indie flick her sister is starring in, Anna finds herself immersed in Manson Family literature With each book she devours she’s closer to paying her debts but with it comes this uneasy feeling she just cannot shake It isn’t until the director says he wants her to not only research but to get into the mindset of the Manson girls does she realize it isn’t the subject matter thats freaking her out, but how easy it is to do just that.There are a great many YA novels that extend well beyond the title of YA Ones where the characters may be teens but the story can reach people of any age For me, this book fit the YA genre title perfectly Had I read this in my early teen years I probably would have been head over heels in love with it but the window for me to truly connect has passed That doesn’t change the fact that this is very well written and has great character development Highly recommended for teenagers or those who love true YA novels 3.5/5