American Girls by Alison Umminger | Book Review
Publication: Flatiron Books
Release date: April 2, 2019
How I got the copy: Flatiron Books
I’ve had this book sitting on my shelf for way too long! I’ve been eyeing American Girls probably since around its release date in 2016 and only got around to it now. But I’m so glad I finally decided to put this book on my monthly TBR because I really enjoyed it. This book includes topics I enjoying reading about like drama, true crime, violence, LGBTQIA+, and family relationships while being set in Los Angeles.
Going into this book I heard it included a female/female relationship but expected it to involve the main character, Anna, which is incorrect. This is what happens when you refuse to read the synopsis completely and not get around to the book for years. The female/female relationship in this story is Anna’s mother but even though it’s not a huge focus of the overall story it’s a diverse element that made this book even more special.
Anna’s been struggling since her parents separated and even though she loves her new brother, she can’t help but feel her mother and new stepmother wish her out of the picture. Struggling to cope Anna starts bullying a classmate with her best friend and then decides to run away to Los Angeles for the summer, where her sister lives. When Anna arrives to LA she realizes her stay won’t be as glamorous as she’d imagined and her sister isn’t as nice as she used to be. Anna’s sister is trying to break into the entertainment industry, working long hours on set and running to several auditions a day leaving Anna with her boyfriend on the set of a kids comedy TV show. Anna struggles with understanding the choices and secrets her sister is making. The choices people are making around her and coming to realize that everyone is fighting an internal battle with themselves.
While Anna’s on set she meets twins from the kids comedy TV series (which seem so much like Cole and Dylan Sprouse from The Suite Life of Zac and Cody! LOL). I used to watch the show all the time as a kid and I just couldn’t stop picturing Zac and Cody.
What I mostly enjoyed about this book were the dark elements of American Girls. Anna finds herself taking a job from her sisters director friends researching the Manson murders, which webs the story with emotional violence that occurs while being a teenager between parents, friends, siblings and the people they meet who are just trying their best. It’s about understanding that the choices that people make aren’t black and white and that we’re all struggling with something regardless if it shows on the outside.
This is Alison Umminger’s debut and only novel (so far? Fingers crossed). I’d totally be interested in reading another book written by Umminger especially if it also focuses/includes darker topics again. I loved reading about Anna and her story being a young, vulnerable, female in American.
*A copy of this book was provided by Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review*