American Girls

by Alison Umminger

Anna, 15, ran away to her older sister Delia’s in Los Angeles. She used her... read more

Anna, 15, ran away to her older sister Delia’s in Los Angeles. She used her stepmother’s credit card to buy a plane ticket, a cost Anna’s now expected to repay. Delia’s boyfriend, Dex, writes for a Disneyesque series called Chips Ahoy! Anna spends days with Dex while Delia goes to auditions and appears in her former boyfriend Roger’s independent movie. Roger hires Anna to research Charles Manson for his film, and the inanity of Chips Ahoy! is stark contrast to the Manson murders, not to mention the uneasy life of beautiful Delia, whom Anna fears is being stalked. Anna can’t understand what made young women follow Manson and commit such atrocities. How and why did they fall under his thrall? In a startling, original, complex debut novel, Anna’s voice is sharp, witty, and also honest. Her mother is incredibly self-centered; her sister supportive but worrisome and frustrating; her stepmother annoying yet stable. The brilliantly realized Los Angeles setting also works as a means to magnify the ways women and girls everywhere are too often objectified, invisible, exploited, and sometimes abused. Anna's increasing clarity is poignant, and at times profound. “Los Angeles … is not really so different from the rest of America.” (Age 14 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2017

show less