Review: My Favorite Manson Girl
Alison Umminger - My Favorite Manson GirlPublished: June 7, 2016 by Flatiron Books
Genres: Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Find on: Amazon, Book Depository, 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.
~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
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?"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.)
"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.
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.[ she is revealed to have cancer and Anna insists to return home, but Anna's mother literally says: "No, you might make the cancer worse." (hide spoiler)] 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."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.
"That's reassuring," I said. "You did live together for five years."
My sister glared and Roger ignored me. Just like old times.