Customer Reviews for

Anthropology of an American Girl

Average Rating 3.5
( 82 )
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(31)

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(12)

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(20)

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(7)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Destined to be a modern American classic?

Even before finishing this book, I kept thinking that this novel would be considered a classic by future college professors (or whoever decides such things!). It reminded me of an elongated and superior version of The Great Gatsby (not my favorite novel) as it contains ...
Even before finishing this book, I kept thinking that this novel would be considered a classic by future college professors (or whoever decides such things!). It reminded me of an elongated and superior version of The Great Gatsby (not my favorite novel) as it contains a female character who is utterly defined by a time, a place and her lover. I think we forget the tragic drama encapsulated in the young and fall into the trap of thinking that the young and the beautiful have the world by a string. Not so, as this author tenderly reminds us. In some ways the exaggerated angst is a little baffling, but the author has a wonderful way of words and I was taken in by her spell, constantly pausing to marvel at her wonderful prose. It's not a book everyone would enjoy, and definitely not a quick read due to its length; but I am very happy I read it as it made me feel like I was in on the discovery of a noteworthy new author.

posted by revcat on September 24, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Charming Romantic or Self-Absorbed Narcissist?

This book has received some high praise, but also some sharp criticism. It is the author's first novel, originally self-published in 2003, then re-edited and released by Random House in 2010. The author describes it as loosely semi-autobiographical, and says she was exa...
This book has received some high praise, but also some sharp criticism. It is the author's first novel, originally self-published in 2003, then re-edited and released by Random House in 2010. The author describes it as loosely semi-autobiographical, and says she was examining how individuals approach the problem of identity-our choices and the narrowing of doorways as we age. She has written a coming of age story that begins in 1979 when the protagonist Eveline is an artistic, introspective seventeen-year-old high school student and ends in 1984 after her graduation from NYU. There is a lot of angst, drama, and soul-searching along the way.

How much you like this book will depend, I think, on how much of a romantic you are, and to what degree you buy into the concept of true soul mates. At some 600 pages in length, Eveline's discovery of her soul mate, Harrison Rourke, their parting, her falling apart and then struggle for redemption is not a quick read. Personally, I love long novels when I enjoy reading them, but this is where I have mixed feeling about this book. The author has a facility with words and writes some very evocative, poetic scenes of Regan-era America. However, while the voice of the heroine is often poignant and wise, she can also be unpleasantly self-absorbed and bratty.

I had a lot of difficulty with some of the dialog during Evie's high school years. Okay, I know she's bright, but some of the philosophical exchanges between her and her tormented friend/boyfriend Jack belong in the mouths of 30 to 40-year-olds, not teenagers. It will really stretch some readers' credibility. It also bothered me that Evie appears to be one of those girls/women who never form close and lasting female relationships, but always gravitates to men for intimacy. (Does every man have to love her?) And, as for the way she totally buries her values and personal integrity after losing Rourke, it's just too passive, narcissistic and self-absorbed for my taste. Especially for a character who's world view has been so sharp, her wit so dry, and her insights so keen. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps! I also agreed with another review that stated: The meat of this novel is so focused on Evie's internal world that it is hard to know how she comes across to her companions . . . A little dialogue on her part would have been a welcome substitute for the incessant reflection.

All that said, I read the book to the very end. As one reviewer said: It's addictive reading. Many of the observations are dead-on, especially contrasts between Evie's hippie, house-by-the-tracks background and the wealthy movers and shakers of East Hampton and New York. The author obviously has a lot of talent, and I will definitely take a look at her next book.

posted by Maine-Girl on August 28, 2010

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  • Posted September 24, 2011

    Destined to be a modern American classic?

    Even before finishing this book, I kept thinking that this novel would be considered a classic by future college professors (or whoever decides such things!). It reminded me of an elongated and superior version of The Great Gatsby (not my favorite novel) as it contains a female character who is utterly defined by a time, a place and her lover. I think we forget the tragic drama encapsulated in the young and fall into the trap of thinking that the young and the beautiful have the world by a string. Not so, as this author tenderly reminds us. In some ways the exaggerated angst is a little baffling, but the author has a wonderful way of words and I was taken in by her spell, constantly pausing to marvel at her wonderful prose. It's not a book everyone would enjoy, and definitely not a quick read due to its length; but I am very happy I read it as it made me feel like I was in on the discovery of a noteworthy new author.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 28, 2010

    Charming Romantic or Self-Absorbed Narcissist?

    This book has received some high praise, but also some sharp criticism. It is the author's first novel, originally self-published in 2003, then re-edited and released by Random House in 2010. The author describes it as loosely semi-autobiographical, and says she was examining how individuals approach the problem of identity-our choices and the narrowing of doorways as we age. She has written a coming of age story that begins in 1979 when the protagonist Eveline is an artistic, introspective seventeen-year-old high school student and ends in 1984 after her graduation from NYU. There is a lot of angst, drama, and soul-searching along the way.

    How much you like this book will depend, I think, on how much of a romantic you are, and to what degree you buy into the concept of true soul mates. At some 600 pages in length, Eveline's discovery of her soul mate, Harrison Rourke, their parting, her falling apart and then struggle for redemption is not a quick read. Personally, I love long novels when I enjoy reading them, but this is where I have mixed feeling about this book. The author has a facility with words and writes some very evocative, poetic scenes of Regan-era America. However, while the voice of the heroine is often poignant and wise, she can also be unpleasantly self-absorbed and bratty.

    I had a lot of difficulty with some of the dialog during Evie's high school years. Okay, I know she's bright, but some of the philosophical exchanges between her and her tormented friend/boyfriend Jack belong in the mouths of 30 to 40-year-olds, not teenagers. It will really stretch some readers' credibility. It also bothered me that Evie appears to be one of those girls/women who never form close and lasting female relationships, but always gravitates to men for intimacy. (Does every man have to love her?) And, as for the way she totally buries her values and personal integrity after losing Rourke, it's just too passive, narcissistic and self-absorbed for my taste. Especially for a character who's world view has been so sharp, her wit so dry, and her insights so keen. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps! I also agreed with another review that stated: The meat of this novel is so focused on Evie's internal world that it is hard to know how she comes across to her companions . . . A little dialogue on her part would have been a welcome substitute for the incessant reflection.

    All that said, I read the book to the very end. As one reviewer said: It's addictive reading. Many of the observations are dead-on, especially contrasts between Evie's hippie, house-by-the-tracks background and the wealthy movers and shakers of East Hampton and New York. The author obviously has a lot of talent, and I will definitely take a look at her next book.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 26, 2010

    ...

    I am writing this review in code, so that you don't find any of the story leaking through. Read Anthropology of An American Girl, really allow yourself the space to READ it, somewhere quiet, so that you can have the time to experience every beautiful word. The novel deserves the space. You deserve the story. It moved me beyond words, but let me try...

    This my favorite book. After reading The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, I couldn't read anything for a while. I got back to reading, and then didn't feel that way again until Broken by Daniel Clay. And then again, a gap. A series of mediocre books. Until I found this book by chance.

    Anthropology of an American Girl has stolen my heart. The next book I read will be Anthropology of an American Girl. Again. Nothing can compare.

    I miss Eveline, and Rourke. And Jack. Sad, brave Jack.

    I want to believe that all of this really existed, that Rourke is real. And that he loves Evie. Somewhere.

    As I read and dog-eared pages, underlining favorite passages, I got lost in Evie's world, and didn't want to return to my own. I want to start it again, read it from the very beginning, knowing what I know now.

    My book survived the beach, pool water, and the occasional dribble of coffee from a mug too full. It is my most treasured physical possession. Finally, I want to see Jack's book. I loved what he wrote to Evie, at the end. He was a wise soul. I can imagine how it looked, mailed to Evie, tied up in blue ribbon.

    Come back, Eveline. You are sorely missed.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2005

    So beautiful.

    I had never heard of this book before until a friend told me about it over the holiday break, I think the author read at her school. I can't believe it's taken me a year to discover it! This is the most beautiful and honest book I've ever read. I've read all the classics and have tried to get into some contemporary work but have never had much luck. Before Anthropology I resorted to reading mostly non-fiction. It was such a pleasure to find an author that uses language so elegantly. In the paperback edition there¿s an introduction. I decided to read it after I finished the book. I'm really glad I read it after I finished the book, it's so cool the way she explains the characters and inspiration for the book, it's like listening the director's notes on a dvd. If anyone is looking for a great book to get you through the winter, and dream and hope for summer, I would highly recommend Anthropology of an American Girl!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2013

    Horrible store but beautifully written

    I was not intimidated by the size of this book when I purchased it, since I am a fast reader. However, once I began reading, I was dreading getting through 600 pages of long winded prose outlining the inner monologue of a teenage girl. The book has many beautifully written passages and is extremely descriptive. However, the story moves painfully slow. I am confused as to how Evie describes Rourke as the love of her life when they have barely exchanged words with each other. I'd rather see her with Jack who at least has some sort of personality and passion. I can't even make it past the 300 page mark because I'm completely bored of Evie internally disecting every single interaction, thought and feeling that she has every moment of every day. And I still don't understand what the point of the story is! Save your money and time and skip this one.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2010

    Not bad....

    I read this because I thought it was going to be a lot better and also because I live on Long Island. It was fun knowing the places referenced in the book. The characters are decent. Let's just say it's a good summer read on the beach.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2012

    Terrible

    I couldn't finish it and I usually have no trouble finishing boring books- this book was beyond boring. The author was entirely too wordy, by the time she was finished describing something it was hard to remember what she was describing. I got 200 pages through this and nothing had really happened.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2004

    Not Just for American Girls

    I just finished H.T. Hamann's 'Anthropology of an American Girl' and I loved it! A friend of mine recommended it to me and I was skeptical--I thought it would be a 'girl book.' I was completely wrong. (I guess you should never judge a book by it's cover, or title for that matter.) It was one of the best books I've ever read. Intellegent, vivid and real are the three words that come to mind. This book spoke to me like no other book has. I want everyone to share in this experience.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2004

    Anthropology of an American Girl

    Anthropology of an American Girl is the best book I have ever read. I have just finished it and I am going to read it again right away. It doesn't lie, and the author doesn't talk down to you. It makes me want to start writing my own story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2004

    I absolutely loved this book!

    this was a book that stayed with me from the first sentence to the last. I had difficulty putting it down, because even though it was over 600 pages long, I didn't want it to end. A beautiful story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2004

    Anthropology of an American Girl

    You must read this book. If you are totally bored by chick-lit and other ez-reader books that are basically thick magazines and practically disposable, then find this book. Thank God it's long, because you feel like you have a friend in Eveline and you don't want to lose her. Even though it's a while back in the 70s and 80s she is cooler than anyone today. I recommend this book to anyone who loves to read and especially if you love classics. You will end up keeping it forever. This book makes you understand that the smallest choices you make can lead to the most tremendous consequences.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2004

    Textbook of the Times

    I met the author in Chicago at Barbara's and she happened to be very interesting so I bought this book. I guess because of the Girl in the title I might not have known about it. But as far as I'm concerned, it is about time and place and the cultural changes that came about in the Reagan years. It's a textbook of the times. What I'd like to know is how come this book isn't on any shows or in the papers more. How come we always have to hear about the same twelve things?? I mean, if it's a best seller, does it really need any more sales help?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2004

    Captivating and Touching

    Not only is H.T. Hamann a wonderful writer and architect of beautiful words and emotions, but she created characters that remind us of people in or lives. No gimmicks or cliches, Anthropology of an American Girl is an amazing story and will leave you dreaming about love, choice and of course Evie and Rourke. Buy this book and encourage authors like Ms. Hamann to continue writing stories about real women and relevant issues.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2003

    Totally beautiful

    I was one of the lucky few who got to read this book when it was in the galley stages, and then again when it was finished. To me, it's an examination of heroism and home and these things that consume us as Americans. Things we search for. I happen to be 21, but my mother read the book and loved it, and so did all my roommates-from different cultures, so it's more of a classic piece of fiction intended for all.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2003

    A tour de force

    Hamann's novel is by far one of the most relevant novels to grace bookshelves in decades. Her thoughtful, intimate portrayal of Evaline allows the reader to take part in her human and artistic development throughout the years of her adolescence and beyond.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2003

    Jack and Kurt

    Is Jack Flemming Kurt Cobain? I've followed Nirvana forever and when I read this I totally felt like it was Kurt. Whether or not it's on purpose, this book captures his essence.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2013

    Confusing!

    I only got through 96 pages and could not stand it anymore! This book is verbose, vague and depressing! I couldn't keep track of who was who or what was going on! The main character was more introspective than her outer relationships, which were just awkward! Don't waste your money!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2013

    F

    Anybody wanna chat?

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2010

    The BEST book I have read!!!

    I cannot remember another book that I have had such a viseral response to. I LOVED everything about it. A must read!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2004

    Enchanting!

    this story was enthralling and impossible to put down!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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