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We fought. When my mother and I crossed state lines in the car, I'd sit against the window and wouldn't talk. I wouldn't even look at her. The fights came when I thought she broke a promise. She said there'd be an Indian reservation. She said that we'd see buffalo in Texas. My mother said a lot of things. We were driving from Bay City, Wisconsin, to California, so I could be a child star while I was still a child.
"Talk to me," my mother would say. "If you're upset, tell me."
But I wouldn't. I knew how to make her suffer. I was mad. I was mad about a lot of things. Places she said would be there, weren't. We were running away from family. We'd left home.
Then my mother would pull to the side of the road and reach over and open my door.
"Get out, then," she'd say, pushing me.
I got out. It was always a shock the first minute because nothing outside was bad. The fields were bright. It never happened on a bad day. The western sky went on forever, there were a few clouds. A warm breeze came up and tangled around my legs. The road was dull as a nickel. I stood there at first amazed that there was nothing horrible in the landscape.
But then the wheels of the familiar white Continental turned, a spit of gravel hit my shoes and my mother's car drove away. When it was nothing but a dot in the distance, I started to cry.
I lost time then; I don't know if it was minutes or if it was more. There was nothing to think because there was nothing to do. First, I saw small things. The blades of grass. Their rough side, their smooth, waxy side. Brown grasshoppers. A dazzle of California poppies.
I'd look at everything around me. In yellow fields, the tops of weeds bent under visible waves of wind. There was a high steady note of insects screaking. A rich odor of hay mixed with the heady smell of gasoline. Two or three times, a car rumbled by, shaking the ground. Dry weeds by the side of the road seemed almost transparent in the even sun.
I tried hard but I couldn't learn anything. The scenery all went strange, like a picture on a high billboard. The fields, the clouds, the sky; none of it helped because it had nothing to do with me.
My mother must have watched in her rearview mirror. My arms crossed over my chest, I would have looked smaller and more solid in the distance. That was what she couldn't stand, my stub-bornness. She'd had a stubborn husband. She wasn't going to have a stubborn child. But when she couldn't see me anymore, she gave up and turned around and she'd gasp with relief when I was in front of her again, standing open-handed by the side of the road, nothing more than a child, her child.
And by the time I saw her car coming back, I'd be covered with a net of tears, my nose running. I stood there with my hands hanging at my sides, not even trying to wipe my face.
My mother would slow down and open my door and I'd run in, looking back once in a quick good-bye to the fields, which turned ordinary and pretty again. And when I slid into the car, I was different. I put my feet up on the dashboard and tapped the round tips of my sneakers together. I wore boys' sneakers she thought I was too old for. But now my mother was nice because she knew I would talk to her.
"Are you hungry?" was the first thing she'd say.
"I am," she'd say. "I feel like an ice cream cone. Keep your eyes open for a Howard Johnson's."
We always read the magazines, so we knew where we wanted to go. My mother had read about Scottsdale and Albuquerque and Bel Air. But for miles, there was absolutely nothing. It seemed we didn't have anything and even air that came in the windows when we were driving fast felt hot.
We had taken Ted's Mobil credit card and we used it whenever we could. We scouted for Mobil stations and filled up the tank when we found one, also charging Cokes on the bill. We dug to our elbows in the ice chests, bringing the cold pop bottles up like a catch. There was one chain of motels that accepted Mobil cards. Most nights we stayed in those, sometimes driving three or four hours longer to find one, or stopping early if one was there. They were called Travel Lodges and their signs each outlined a bear in a nightcap, sleepwalking. They were dull motels, lonely, and they were pretty cheap, which bothered my mother because she would have liked to charge high bills to Ted. I think she enjoyed signing Mrs. Ted Diamond. We passed Best Westerns with hotel swim-ming pools and restaurants with country singers and we both wished and wished Ted had a different card.
Travel Lodges were the kind of motels that were set a little off the highway in a field. They tended to be one or at the most two stories, with cement squares outside your room door for old empty metal chairs. At one end there would be a lit coffee shop and a couple of semis parked on the gravel. The office would be near the coffee shop. It would have shag carpeting and office furniture, always a TV attached by metal bars to the ceiling.
Those motels depressed us. After we settled in the room, my mother looked around, checking for cleanliness. She took the bedspreads down, lifted curtains, opened drawers and the medi-cine cabinet, and looked into the shower. Sometimes she took the paper off a water glass and held the glass up to see that it was washed.
I always wanted to go outside. My mother would be deliberating whether it was safer to leave our suitcase in the room or in the locked car; when she was thinking, she stood in the middle of the floor with her hands on her hips and her lips pursed. Finally, she decided to bring it in. Then she would take a shower to cool off. She didn't make me take one if I didn't want to, because we were nowhere and she didn't care what I looked like in the coffee shop. After her shower, she put on the same clothes she'd been driving in all day.
I went out to our porch and sat in the one metal chair. Its back was a rounded piece, perhaps once designed to look like a shell. I could hear her shower water behind me, running; in front, the constant serious sound of the highway. A warm wind slapped my skin lightly, teasing, the sound of the trucks on the highway came loud, then softer, occasionally a motorcycle shrank to the size of a bug, red taillights ticking on the blue sky.
I acted like a kid, always expecting to find something. At home, before supper, I'd stood outside when the sky looked huge and even the near neighbors seemed odd and distant in their oc-cupations. I'd watched the cars moving on the road, as if by just watching you could understand, get something out of the world.
At the motel, I would walk around to the back. I'd stand look-ing at the field, like any field. The back of the building was or-dinary, brick, with glass meter gauges. There was a gas tank lodged on a cement platform, pooled with rusty water. The field went on to where you could see trailers and a neon sign for Dairy Queen in the distance.
The near and the far, could have been anywhere, could have been our gas tank, our fields and sky at home. Our yard had the same kinds of weeds. Home could have been anywhere too.
"Ann. A-yun," my mother would be yelling, then. It all ended, gladly, when she called me from the door. She was finished with her shower and wanted to go for supper at the coffee shop. Our day was almost done. And we enjoyed the dinners in those coffee shops. We ordered the most expensive thing on the menu and side dishes and beverages and desserts. We were anxious, trying to plan to get all the best of what they had. We rolled up our sleeves, asked for extra sour cream and butter. We took pleasure in the scrawled figures added up on the green-lined bill.
Mornings, we always started out later than we'd planned. The manager ran the credit card through the machine and filled the form out slowly. My mother drummed her nails on the counter top, waiting. Then she sighed, holding the credit card form in both hands, examining it a second before signing. "Okay," she said every time she handed the paper back, as if she were giving away one more thing she'd once had.
We'd drive off in the morning and I'd look again, at the plain building, the regular field. I'd forget the land. It was like so much other land we'd seen.
My mother had clipped out pictures of houses in Scottsdale, Ari-zona. We loved the colors: pink, turquoise, browns, rich yellow. The insides of the houses had red tiled floors, clay bowls of huge strawberries on plain, rough wooden tables.
We went out of our way to go to Scottsdale. When we got there, my mother drove to the Luau, a good hotel, one they'd listed in Town and Country. I sat in a chair on one side of the lobby while she went up to the desk. She came back and whispered me the price.
"What do you think? It's a lot but maybe it's worth it once to just relax."
"I think we should find somewhere cheaper."
"There might not be a Travel Lodge in town," she said. "Well, think, Pooh-bear-cub. It's up to you. What would you like to do?"
"Let's find out if there's a Travel Lodge."
She sighed. "Okay. I don't know how we're going to find out. There's probably not. In fact, I'm pretty sure. So what do you think? What should we do?"
I worried about money. And I knew it was a bigger system than I understood. I tried to pick the cheaper thing, like a superstition.
"There's a telephone. Maybe they have a phone book." We were standing in the dark Polynesian lobby. A phone hung in the corner.
She did the looking and it was there, Travel Lodge, with a boxed ad showing the bear sleepwalking, in the yellow pages, listed as being on Route 9. "Nine where?" my mother said, biting her fingernail, clicking the other hand on the metal shelf. "Now, how the heck am I going to find that? It says right out of town, yeah, I'll bet. I didn't see anything, coming in."
"We don't have to go there." I felt like I'd done my duty, checking. I looked around the lobby. It seemed nice. I was beginning to hope she picked here.
"Well, come on." She pulled her purse strap over her shoulder. "Let's go. We'll go there. We should." She had that much worry, apparently.
But driving to the Travel Lodge, not even halfway there, in town, at an intersection near a gas station, we had an accident. My mother rear-ended a car on a red light.
I was sitting on a curb of the intersection, pulling at grass behind me banking the closed filling station. Nearby, the cars were pulled over to one side and a police car with a flashing red light was parked, making trafllc go around them. The policeman stood writing things down as he talked to my mother.
She was moving her hands all around her hair and face. Then she folded her arms across her chest, but one hand couldn't stand it, it reached up to tug at her collar.
"I was going to just stay at that hotel, I knew. I was tired. I know myself. Now, God, tell me, really, how long do you think it will take to be fixed?" She bit a nail.
The policeman looked into the dark gas station. "Problem is, it's a weekend," he said.
My mother looked at me and shook her head. The policeman walked over to the other driver. She was a woman in shorts and a sleeveless shirt. She seemed calm.
"See, I'm not going to listen to you anymore," my mother said. "Because I know best. You try and save a few pennies and you end up spending thousands." She exhaled, shoving out a hip.
It was ten o'clock and finally getting cooler. We were hungry, we still hadn't eaten dinner. The other woman, having taken the numbers she needed, left, waving good-bye to us and to the po-liceman.
"Calm down, Adele," she said to my mother.
My mother pulled a piece of her hair. "Calm down, well, that's easy for you to say. Jeez, calm down, she says, when she's going to sue, she'll get her kids' college educations out of this, I know how it's done."
The woman laughed and slammed her car door shut. She rolled down her window. "Barry's Hanover might have a mechanic in on Saturday," she called to the policeman.
"Mom, I'm hungry." My rump was cold and it seemed we might be there all night.
"Well, we have to stay," she said. "If we'd just checked in, then we'd be there now, probably eating, no, we'd be finished. We'd probably be having dessert. But now we have to wait."
"For how long?"
"I don't know."
The policeman came over to us, still holding his notebook. "We've done all we can do until tomorrow," he said. "Now I'll take you wherever you want to go and you can just leave the car here and call in the morning and have her towed."
"They're probably not even going to have room left at the hotel now," she said to me.
The policeman had freckles on his arms and his hands, like my mother. He put the notebook in his back pocket. "Now, you are both welcome to stay with my wife and I for the night, if you're worried. There's plenty of extra room.
"Oh, no, thank you, though, we couldn't."
"Because it wouldn't be any trouble. And my wife makes a mean apple pie." He looked at me.
"Thank you, but no, really." My mother inspired offers like that, often. I didn't know until I was older how unusual that is. "But would you mind dropping us off at the Luau?"
"Yes, ma'am," he said. "Nice place."
We both sat in the backseat while he drove. The windows were covered with chicken wire. "I just hope they still have room," my mother said, stretching her fingers out on the seat and looking down at their nails.
The thing about my mother and me is that when we get along, we're just the same. Exactly. And at the Luau Hotel, we were happy. Waiting for our car to be fixed, we didn't talk about money. It was so big, we didn't think about it. We lay on our stomachs on the king-sized bed, our calves tangling up behind us, readingnovels. I read Gone With the Wind. Near the end, I locked myself in the bathroom, stopping up my face with a towel. After a while she knocked on the door.
"Honey, let me in, I want to tell you something!" I made myself keep absolutely still. "Don't worry, Honey, she gets him back later. She gets him again in the end."
We loved the swimming pool. Those days we were waiting for our car to be fixed, we lay out from ten until two, because my mother had read that those were the best tanning hours. That was what we liked doing, improving ourselves: lying sprawled out on the reclining chairs, rubbed with coconut suntan oil, turning the pages of new-bought magazines. Then we'd go in the pool, me cannonballing off the diving board for the shock of it, my mother starting in one corner of the shallow end, both her arms out to the sides, skimming the surface as she stepped in gradually, smiling wide, saying, "Eeeeeeeee."
My mother wore a white suit, I swam in gym shorts. While I was lying on a chair, once, she picked up my foot and looked down my leg. "Apricot," she said.
At home, one farmer put in a swimming pool, fenced all around with aluminum. That summer, Ben and I sat in the fields outside, watching through the diamond spaces of the fence. Sometimes the son would try and chase us away and throw rocks at us, little sissy pieces of gravel.
"Public property!" we screamed back at him. We were sitting in Guns Field. We kids all knew just who owned what land.
Every afternoon, late, after the prime tanning hours, we went out. Dressing took a long time. My mother called room service for a pitcher of fresh lemonade, told them not too much sugar, but some sugar, like yesterday, a pinch, just enough so it was sweet. Sweet, but a little tart, too. Come to think of it, yesterday tasted a little too tart, but the day before was perfect. This was all on the tele-phone. My mother was the kind of customer a waitress would like to kill.
We'd each take showers and wash our hair, squeezing lemons on it before the cream rinse. We touched up our fingernails and toenails with polish. That was only the beginning. Then came the body cream and face cream, our curlers and hair sprays and makeup.
All along, I had a feeling we couldn't afford this and that it would be unimaginably bad when we had to pay. I don't know what I envisioned: nothing, no luck, losing everything, so it was the absolute worst, no money for food, being stopped on a plain cement floor in the sun, unable to move, winding down, stopping like a clock stopped.
But then it went away again. In our sleeveless summer dresses and white patent leather thongs, we walked to the district of small, expensive shops. There was an exotic pet store we visited every day. We'd been first drawn in by a sign on the window for two defumed skunks.
"But you can never really get the smell completely out," the blond man inside had told us. He showed us a baby raccoon and we watched it lick its paws, with movements like a cat but more delicate, intricate features.
More than anything, I wanted that raccoon. And my mother wasn't saying no. We didn't have to make any decisions until we left the Luau. And we didn't know yet when that would be.
In a china store, my mother held up a plain white plate. "Look at this. See how fine it is?" If she hadn't said that, I wouldn't have noticed anything, but now I saw that it was thin and there was a pearliness, like a film of water, over the surface.
"Granny had a whole set like this." She turned the plate upside down and read the fine printing. "Yup, this is it. Spode."
I remembered Granny almost bald, carrying oats and water across the yard to feed Hal's pony. But still, I didn't know.
"Mmhmm. You don't know, but Granny was very elegant. Gramma isn't, she could be, but she isn't. We're like Granny. See, we belong here, Pooh-bear-cub. We come from this."
I didn't know.
What People are Saying About This
The two women in this book are American originals. Ann is a new Huck Finn, a tough, funny, resourceful love of a girl. Adele is like no one I've encountered, at once deplorable and admirableand altogether believable.
Reading Group Guide
The questions, discussion topics, and author biography that follow are designed to enhance your group's reading of Mona Simpson's novel Anywhere But Here. We hope that they will provide you with new ways of looking at a novel produced by an American realist hailed by critics as one of her generation's finest writers. With this work, Mona Simpson shows herself to be a sensitive and incisive analyst of the broken family, with an uncommon insight into the child who is at the mercy of parents who are absent, restless, narcissistic, dishonest or emotionally unstable. While it engages serious contemporary social issues, this work also makes for compulsive and deeply enjoyable reading, with characters who absorb our attention and involve us completely in their world.
1. The opening of Anywhere But Here shows Ann and her mother in a wrenching scene of abandonment and reconciliation. How does this episode reverberate throughout the novel? What happens when Ann decides she doesn't want her mother to come back for her?
2. The novel centers upon a mother-daughter relationship that is often painful, sometimes even violent, yet often loving as well. What is at stake in Ann's fights with her mother? How are love and hatred bound together here? What is distorted about the roles of mother and daughter? Later in the novel Adele begins to threaten suicide; what part does this behavior play in the ongoing struggle between Ann and Adele?
3. Anywhere But Here explores the role of family roots, rootedness, and uprooting in contemporary American life. Is there a qualitative difference between the lives of Ann and Adele, who left home, and the lives of those they left behind? Are those who leave necessarily the more ambitious and adventurous ones? Do you see the passivity that seems to be characteristic of both Lillian and Carol as a reflection of or as a reason for their rootedness?
4. Who is the ideal parent in the novel and why? Is Adele the sort of person who should not have become a parent? Is there anything positive about Adele as a mother? What role do fathers play in the novel?
5. Why does Simpson avoid giving Adele a speaking part until the end of the book? What is the effect of the first-person narratives of Lillian and Carol? Do you think these provide a useful perspective on Ann's story, or that the narrative might have been better spoken entirely by Ann?
6. Mona Simpson has said that in the beginning of her work on this novel she disliked Adele, but developed a kind of affection for her as the work went forward. How do you feel about Adele? What might be at the root of her spectacularly poor judgment? What are we able to learn about her own emotional history, her own childhood?
7. How does the novel portray sex for women and girls? What role does sexuality play in the lives of each of the four main female characters--Lillian, Adele, Carol and Ann? Why do you think Ann wants to take nude photographs of other children? Does Ann's upbringing affect her ability to love?
8. Adele spends large amounts of money on expensive clothes that she can't afford in the belief that her physical attractiveness is necessary for getting Ann "a new daddy." What is the place of material objects like clothes and cars in Adele's sense of who she is? Is this a trait she passes on to Ann?
9. Apart from her grandmother, Ann's closest and most secure relationship is with her cousin Benny. How does Ben's death impact upon Ann's life? What do you find strange about the description of the family's gathering for the funeral visit?
10. How does food--especially ice cream--figure in the relationship between mother and daughter? Consider the place of food in Ann's visit to her mother near the end of the book: why does Adele have so much food in the house? Why does Simpson include the detail of the ants on the carrot cake?
11. As noted earlier, Simpson has decided to save Adele's narrative for the end of the novel. We have previously seen her through the eyes of her daughter, her sister, and her mother. Does this final section change your perspective on her in any way? Adele tells us that she has learned to feel better about herself through "The Course of Miracles," a popular self-help program (533). What does this section suggest about Simpson's view of the current state of spirituality and moral self-examination in our culture?
12. Is there such a thing as "home" in Anywhere But Here? What would you say is the difference, symbolically, between Wisconsin and California in the novel? Is life shaped by place and social context as much as by one's parents and upbringing? What is most unmistakably American about the novel?
For discussion of ANYWHERE BUT HERE, THE LOST FATHER, and A REGULAR GUY:
1. What are some of the ways in which these novels identify the problems of family life in contemporary American culture? What is Mona Simpson's ideal of the family, and how do the families in these three novels fail or succeed in providing love, protection, identity, self-respect? Why is the importance of the child's point of view central to all three novels?
2. In The Lost Father, Mayan says, "So much of what determined what was life and what dream was still only money" [p. 116]. In each of these works, one's economic condition has a strong shaping influence on one's life. Is money--or its lack--the most fateful element in life? Which characters in these works are most dependent on money, or on the idea of wealth, in imagining and creating the kind of life they desire?
3. There is a range of narrative techniques in these three novels. There are several first-person narrators in Anywhere But Here, a single first-person narrator in The Lost Father, and a third person omniscient narrator in A Regular Guy. How do these technical choices on Simpson's part affect your experience of each of the novels?
4. About her approach to structure, Simpson has said, "I work paragraph to paragraph or even line to line.... I have an emotional sense of where things are going to, but I don't do a whole chart or anything like that." (From interview with Susannah Hunnewell, The New York Times Book Review, 9 February 1992, p. 10.) How would you describe and differentiate the structure of these novels? Henry James fondly called the novel form "a loose baggy monster." Do you think that Simpson's novels particularly fit this description?
5. How does Simpson control and convey the sense of time and of past and present? How important a role does memory play in these works?
6. Simpson started out as a poet, and her writing is often powerfully lyrical and imagistic. For example, in The Lost Father Mayan says of her mother, "in her private soul she is a child holding an empty glass jar waiting for the sky to fill it..." [p. 3]. What are some of the more striking images and descriptive passages you've noticed? How do such images affect or deepen your experience of the work?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Anywhere But Here captured my attention and my heart only one chapter through. Mona Simpson displays true talent through her distinctive, masterful writing. Everything about Anywhere But Here is soulfully perfect-the quirky, yet lovable characters, the jumpy plots, and the realism. I recommend this brilliant novel to anyone who loves to read about family and the essence of life.
Mona Simpson¿s book, Anywhere But Here is a well written and well crafted fictional novel about a mother and daughter relationship. Adele August, mother of Ann, is a high spirited woman who doesn¿t fit the profile of a mom. She yearns for a life in California, to roam the easy street among actors and actresses. Adele even wants to have her own daughter become a star as well. She pushes Ann towards a direction she thinks will be great for her, wanting to give her daughter a life she didn¿t have. She forces Ann to become the adult and to be the one to think logically. Anywhere but Here is a good novel, but it lacks a solid plot. The flashbacks to the grandmother and the aunt throw off the flow of the story and the memories aren¿t properly organized. Although the vocabulary and sentence structure are simple, the reader really needs to pay close attention to each word in order to understand what is going on. The scenes change rapidly between past and present, and a lot of the setting switch over from house to car to hotel as well. I liked the book, but it wasn¿t the best I have read. I wouldn¿t recommend this book to anyone that likes action or suspense or any kind of a major conflict. Overall, the book needed a more developed plot to help the story flow.
Mona Simpson's book 'Anywhere But Here' is a great read. There are many real life illusions in the book that make readers feel like they could be reading about themselves. This novel is about a young girl and her mother and their struggle to get by in life. Anne, the daughter, is a beautiful young girl and her mother, Adele, thinks she could succeed in show business, so they travel around the country. Adele is an over protective mother. The novel first describes the grandmother's life and goes all the way through to Anne's life. This makes parts of the book confusing and hard to picture, but later on the book explains itself. Many parts in the novel have smaller chapters within those parts. This makes the book seem more realistic but sometimes we do not know who is talking or don't really understand who the person is in contrast to the rest of the characters. Overall, though, this was a novel that anyone could read and enjoy.
This is the best book I have ever read. The characters are so real. I also love the movie Susan Surandon and Natalie Portman portray Adele and Ann so perfectly
I am a big fan of the movie adaptation of this book mainly because of the film's supporting (though I think otherwise) actress, Natalie Portman. I simply adored the movie even though it was a 'chick flick', so sue me. I had one gripe about the movie and that was that it left alot of things open and unresolved. I decided to buy the book and see if it would bring closure to alot of the situations. As I was reading through it, I found out that there were MANY things that didn't even make it onscreen. Things that should've been included but would have made for a long drawn-out movie, much like a television mini-series. This book too was of the 'chick pick' genre, but I overlooked that (as I did with the movie). Superbly written, visually imaginative, this book took me awhile to finish but it did eventually close up the movie's plot holes. It makes me wonder whether the movie would have been more successful if Simpson were to have written the screenplay. I am now moving on to Natalie Portman's new movie 'Where The Heart Is'. This time I'm going to read the book before I see the movie. But, back to the subject, I highly recommend this book. It's geared more to the female population but I'm pretty sure males (such as myself) will find it just as satisfying.
This book was confusing. You have to read every sentence and understand it fully. One minute you're in the car traveling to California, the next minute your in Bay City, years before the move. Read every chapter, I mean EVERY CHAPTER!! They each explain something about the family. It was a good book all in all. Enjoy!!
The book Anywhere But Here is such a great book its so much better than the movie I read the first few chapters and I couldn't put the book down I just loved it.
I've had this book for years and decided to read it cause it was in Nancy Pearl's Book Lust. There were some parts that were okay, but I wasn't a huge fan of this book. The mother, Adele August, drove me nuts! I hated this woman and I've seen women similar to her in real-life! A girl back in high school did an essay/project on it and she thought it was funny. I didn't find it to be really funny at all, and I was expecting it to be a bit different.
Half the dysfunction STILL would have been too much. This book was such a downer. Adele, the mother, was a complete flake. Ann, her daughter, always overcomes--somehow or other. Author sometimes abruptly changes the course of action. There were several times I thought I had turned ,multiple pages and lost the plot line, but no. I was reading consecutive pages, just another random plot twist from nowhere.
None of the characters were sympathetic. Mother is weird and neurotic.
In Mona Simpson's 'Anywhere But Here', she shows a young girl's life as she grows up with her self-obsessed mother. Simpson fills the book with many short stories that have almost no connection to the rest of the book. The first few pages are a hard read because of the many characters to connect and the many metaphors, similes, and long description paragraphs.Simpson doesn't give enough description of Ann or her her mother, Adele, to get a clear picture of ages, looks, or motives. Although the book is an interesting look at a mother and daughter's roller-coaster ride of a relationship, it is not a book that I would recommend investing in
In my opinion, this book was absolutely horrible. Poorly written, it seemed to me nothing but a series of disjointed, rambling chapters with absolutely no discernable plot. I thought the characters were unlikeable and poorly developed, and I thought some were entirely irrelevant and misplaced in what I assume was the author's attempt at a story. In spite of lengthy, flowery paragraphs describing *facsinating* things like....rocks, pavement, and roads, the story never goes anywhere. I think this book is nearly ridiculous as a published novel. I found the bad writing terribly distracting, and became so frustrated because of it that I couldn't even force myself to finish the book. By the time I'd read nearly half of it, I still couldn't determine a story. The author never provides any background or explanation for either of the two main characters, an unhappy little girl and her neurotic mother. Shame on the publisher for subjecting the public to this waste of paper. Save your money!
Set in modern times, Mona Simpson's fictional book "Anywhere But Here" takes us through a mother-daughter relationship full of misunderstandings and disagreements. Adele, Anne's mother, pressures Anne to look beautiful and thin so that she can become a notorious movie star in Hollywood. Even though Adele has high aspirations for Anne, she can't quite seem to live the life that she has in mind. She is consistently trying to find "the perfect father" for Anne but comes up short after many different dates. Adele finally decides to take Anne to California and eagerly searches for movie shoots and jobs for Anne. This whole ordeal of becoming famous is seen throughout the book but in the end Anne is just a normal child and her mother is left wondering why her idea of Anne becoming famous was never fulfilled. Even though the plot is intriguing, it is quite drawn out. The sentences flow well with one another and are quite colloquial but the prolonged story makes the readability difficult. While reading throught the book we as readers are left wondering why some scenes are even inserted. Many of these scenes are distracting as well as unnecessary. Mona Simpson's writing style also affects the overall readability of "Anywhere But Here." Her chapters jump from character to character letting us see the different views of each character on specific events. However, most of the chapters are seen through Anne's unemotional viewpoint. Carol, Adele's sister, also plays part in a few of the chapters describing Adele's past life and attempting to demonstrate to us readers why Adele acts in the manner that she does. Adele has one chapter in the very end which, unlike Anne's, is full of emotion. As readers, we are left confused as to why Simpson didn't add as much emotion into Anne's character like she does with Adele. As she jumps from character to character, she also skips from year to year ignoring chronological order. This makes for a hard-to-understand organization of stories. One minute we think that Anne is an eighteen-year-old woman and the next we find out that she is only a twelve-year-old child. Not only that, sometimes Simpson doesn't even mention the age and we are left trying to decipher Anne's age by Simpson's inferring style. Overall, the book depicted a real-life situation that we are able to relate to, but the whole storyline was hard to follow. I would suggest watching the movie before the story because you may begin the story but find out that you are unable to finish the difficult storyline.