Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

American Girls

Umminger, Alison (Author)
Macmillan 2016. 294 pages
First published: 2016
ISBN: 9781250075000 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Realistic

Text Elements:

characterization, point of view, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

American Girls is not afraid to peer into the soul of America, despite the horrors. The story takes place in L.A.’s world of celebrities, wannabes, wealth, ambitions, perversion, sex, murder and rape. This novel has it all.

Fifteen-year-old Anna steals her mother’s wife’s credit card and heads to L.A. where her sister Delia is hustling to survive. Her mother allows Anna to stay, but only for the summer. When Delia’s director/ex hires Anna to research the Manson Family murders, the novel acquires an interesting parallel.

Anna is somewhat emotionally detached—her comments and observations are sharp. When she hears about a film being made by a friend she comments: “Dead women who don’t speak. Sounds right up Roger’s alley.”

Anna is honest with herself and the world she witnesses and researches. After learning that one of the Manson girls had not been allowed to eat at the family dinner table, something clicks with Anna. Horror can be complex, she realizes, but it often begins early, in the simplest of scenarios: a lack of respect and boundaries.

“Dear America,” Anna begins a mental memo to her country. “Please give your daughters sturdy bedroom doors that lock from the inside. And when they are hungry, give them a place at the table.”

  •  

    As a commentary on modern American society, this text can support discussions around teen identity issues and other topics such as gender inequality in relationships. Anna’s journey into the lives of the often overlooked “Manson girls,” and the connections she makes to her own life, make this text suitable for delving into adolescent stereotypes and constructs.

  •  

    Discuss the connections Anna makes between her research, her own life and the lives of the people she knows in Los Angeles. What do these connections mean for Anna, her sister and society?

  •  

    Issues stemming from the narrative (e.g. social isolation, the need for affiliation and affection, gender stereotyping, violence against women) can inspire persuasive and argumentative writing on topics of social importance.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Personal Development