Customer Reviews for

Anthropology of an American Girl

Average Rating 3.5
( 82 )
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(31)

4 Star

(12)

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(20)

2 Star

(12)

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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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