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Parents' Guide to

American Girls

By Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Riveting tale of runaway discovering Hollywood underbelly.

American Girls Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 1 parent review

age 13+


This is a very gritty and real sort of book. If you're looking for good role models, go elsewhere. If you're looking for a happy read, go elsewhere. If you're looking for a book with complex characters and complex situations, this is the book for you. Side note, the main character is kind of bratty and annoying. I saw that as a realistic portrayal of a 15 year old, but be warned if that sort of thing gets on your nerves.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (1 ):

With this smart, funny, and intriguing look at the teen-to-adult transition, author Alison Umminger takes on important themes. American Girls addresses family issues, bullying, the desire to be loved, and the value of women in a looks-obsessed world. The only drawback is that Umminger tries to work in too many ideas, and some of the connections she weaves are a little tenuous and tangled, even though the themes are solid. Anna's research into the Manson Family and their crimes is intriguing but not well realized. Through this research and first-hand exposure to the Hollywood machinery, Anna's eyes are opened to the way women are treated in America. The book raises many interesting questions: How do women end up following someone like Manson? How do women who are beautiful trade on it, and how do they cope when that particular currency doesn't hold as much value as they age? What are the side effects of thinking that feelings of self-worth come from being beautiful? Why does the media make stars out of someone like Charles Manson but leave his victims as footnotes?

Anna can be an infuriating main character. She's sarcastic and funny but in denial about how many unfavorable traits she shares with her mom and sister. It's satisfying to see her wake up to her own behaviors and what goes on in the celebrity culture she finds herself in. Umminger has a good ear for teen dialogue and does a great job of balancing the heavier themes with some teen fun, such as meeting and befriending teen TV stars.

Book Details

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