Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Random Shelf-Talker

Anthropology of an American Girl
by Hilary Thayer Hamann

This book is so close to my heart that it is hard to properly describe it. Let me just say, I stayed up all night to finish it. By the morning, the pages were tear-stained and underlined with pink pen. Since finishing it, I've left it on my coffee table so that I can open it and re-read a paragraph or two whenever I feel like it. And I am typically a prodigious alphabetizer, so this is saying something.

Hamann's writing is dramatic and powerful in this intense coming of age story. Eveline Auerbach is a young middle-class woman growing up in East Hampton, New York in the 70s and 80s. She is a unique soul-- at times an artist, and at times a muse. She feels acutely the pull of expectations, but never lets go of her first, transformative love. Hamann is able to put her finger on something that is both deeply personal, and, in many ways, universal to the girl-into-woman experience. If you want to be swept up in a story, this is the story.

Reviewed by Stef Kiper


  1. it's next on the list! i'm currently reading the particular sadness of lemon cake, which i am loving. aimee bender is amazing. but anthropology is on the top my pile!

  2. Ooh I loved that one too! Let me know what you think of it. It has one of the weirder twists I've read lately.

  3. So. I finished Lemon Cake last night and literally held the book to my chest and cried. I haven't felt that way about a book in ages (although When You Reach Me came close). I loved it. Bender's prose is miraculous. I could feel every word. I liked the twist, it gave the story a nice roundness to it, rather than a sharp focus. Anthropology got moved over for The Lonely Polygamist, but it's still on the list!

  4. Well, let me know what you think about The Lonely Polygamist. I read about 10 pages before chucking it across the room. I just can't summon any empathy for a man with a bunch of wives who is starting to feel 'overwhelmed by it all.'
    I liked what you said about the ending of Lemon Cake--a nice roundness to it. I totally get what you mean. You can believe or not believe.
    And I did love When You Reach Me. My favorite middle reader since Castle in the Attic.

  5. I will definitely let you know. I'm about 150 pages in and enjoying it so far. My favorite stuff has been about the kids and about the youngest wife. Complicated families interest me, especially when they're raw and confused like that.