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Review: My Favorite Manson Girl

Alison Umminger - My Favorite Manson Girl
Published: June 7, 2016 by Flatiron Books
Genres: Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Find on: Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads
Rating: 2.5/5

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.

I could've sworn I reviewed this already. Womp.

Anna's life is a hot mess. Her sister, Delia, has ditched the family to pursue a career as a failing actress in LA. Her mother is a newly-minted lesbian with a baby boy named Birch. As in, tree bark and/or the ever-unappreciated Hoenn Pokémon professor. Anna refuses to tolerate any of them any longer, so she steals a credit card and hightails it to LA to find her sister, who takes her in, albeit hesitantly. Shortly after she moves in with Delia, she's provided the offer of researching the Manson girls for money.

Here's the thing: I nearly DNFed this. The first chapter is an ode to Charles Manson (oh, how I wish I were kidding) and I do. not. give. a. shit. I feel like when you're involving something real-time in your book, it could go either way. This is half of Anna & Delia's story, half of Charles Manson's and his followers. If you've ever watched an E! Special and/or read Wikipedia on the Mansons, you might already know everything this book contains. A Study In Charlotte was the same way, except with the story of Sherlock and Watson. If I wanted to learn thousands of unnecessary Snapple facts, I would've ran to Google.

We also receive stupidity, such as this:
"Ass pox?"
"At least, that sounds edgy," Delia said. "Herpes' sounds like something a really dirty Muppet would get."


"Okay, they had choices, but Susan Atkins said that he could see right through her when he met her. And she wasn't the only one."
"Anna," Dex said. "Never underestimate the power of telling a person exactly what she wants to hear."
He was talking to me like I was an idiot. And he was missing the point.
I don't know who would pay a fifteen-year old to research Charles Manson in the first place, anyway. I'm not sure someone that young could grasp the importance of something so gruesome. She kept comparing herself to a "Manson girl" as if she were one? (In her author's note, Umminger even said she didn't enjoy the research for this book. Understandably.)

Also: Anna's mother is a horrible person. Later in the novel, she's revealed to be seriously ill - as in, cancer - Anna insists to return home to help with her baby brother and she literally tells her it might make the cancer worse. What the actual hell, woman?!

Delia reminded me of my own sister in a few ways. For those who may've been annoyed by her, obviously don't have an occasionally annoying sister. How LA wasn't viewed as a place filled with brainless blonde idiots (i.e. Tell Me Three Things, L.A. Candy) was a relief as well.
"So I had a breakthrough," he said, and he took my sister's face between his hands, like he was going to make out with her or snap her neck in one swift move. "I know. I know who you are."
"That's reassuring," I said. "You did live together for five years."
My sister glared and Roger ignored me. Just like old times.
I had no idea American Girls and My Favorite Manson Girl were the same book, actually. It's a The Anatomical Shape of A Heart/ Night Owls situation. I requested this for the cover, really. It's not really a YA providing a substantial sisterly relationship either. Their mother is trainwreck-y and Delia recommends therapy as the only solution. It's an okay novel, but unworthy of a recommend.


  1. I was like this sounds SOOOOO familiar??? It's American Girls LOL!!! I was about to say-- 3 Manson books released in the same month??? But yeah okay, only 2: this and The Girls. Definitely want to read both though. I love books with True Crime in it :)

    1. Omg really?? What are the other two?? hahah. I just finished The Girls. Not a fan. Not a fan. My DNF shall appear later. ;) I love crime-y books, too!

  2. The cover of this book is definitely beautiful but the synopsis itself kind of turned me off. This book sounds like more drama than it's worth...

    Jenna @ Reading with Jenna

    1. Total truth, Jenna! It's way too much of a melodramatic read. haha

  3. Okay, ENOUGH with the random name changes! I was like "MAN, this sounds like that other book, American Girls" only to realize it IS American Girls. Just commented on a review of Out of Water/Goldfish too. STAHP. Why aren't all English speaking editions the same!? It's the same damn language! Cannot. Anyway... this doesn't sound super. Like, I was interested because I mean, I like creepy shit, you know? The Manson stuff is awful but intriguing. BUt then it doesn't seem to do it justice so... I'll stick to my E! specials, thankyouverymuch. Also, hard pass, because you are so right- NO ONE would pay a 15 year old to do research about Charles Freaking Manson and his gruesome crimes. What even!? Great review, but nope, this one is coming off the TBR.

    1. hahahaha. Ahhhh, GET OUT. Goldfish has a name-change title/thing, too?! lolz, stick to the E! specials, girl. It'll save you so much time. This book is x1000 unrealistic. Thanks, and glad I could help! :D


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