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Hardcover , pages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Anthropology of an American Girl , please sign up. See 1 question about Anthropology of an American Girl…. Lists with This Book. Jun 11, Mary rated it it was ok Shelves: I'm glad that's over.

Anthropology of an American Girl is Peppered with unrealistic and unlikeable people, as well as people one would have liked to get to know better if our narrator, the passive and weak Eveline, could have stopped obssessing about herself for more than 30 seconds. And, occassionally, rather beautiful. But I won't read it again and there are very, very few people I would recommend it to without a twi Whew!

But I won't read it again and there are very, very few people I would recommend it to without a twinge of guilt. I skimmed pages at a time and even skipped some sections the recounting of Eveline's various dreamssoooo tedious. The problem is, all sorts of things happen , but Eveline remains exactly the same. Her usual reaction to any stress seems to be either unemotionally fainting or lapsing into a coma.

That may have worked for 18th century heroines but it fails utterly in this account of the life of a 20th century American girl. This book is really just a trite, thinly-plotted romance novel masquerading as a Work of Great Literature. I sound like I hated itI didn't. As I've previously stated, there were moments of true brilliance and incredible beauty, but they were hidden amongst the pages and pages of angst-ridden, long-winded melodrama.


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View all 3 comments. Nov 30, hannaH rated it did not like it Shelves: This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book was so utterly disappointing. As a twenty-something university student, I was hoping this book would "get" me; for example, a review excerpt from the Columbia Spectator on the back cover reads "What 'Catcher in the Rye' did for high school youths troubled by the onslaught of adulthood The whole book is weighed down with Eveline's angst and focuses ENTIRELY on her relationships with men- the man her ex-drama teacher who she fell in love with as a high school student; Mark, her partner, who is abusive; and Jack, her high school boyfriend who becomes a junkie.

It seems as though Eveline can't actually exist without some sort of male drama to bounce off. Eveline is also one of the most blase narrators I've ever read; she doesn't seem to have any interest in her own life, so why should we care? Plus, the whole book is written so confusingly, and while there are some beautiful passages, the whole thing is just too wordy and convoluted which makes it impossible to follow. As soon as I finished reading it, I threw it down and said " View all 8 comments.

Jun 17, Rebecca rated it did not like it Shelves: I think the people who are raving about this book are completely wrong. I find it sophomoric, badly edited, and trite. It's a lot of teenage angst without any of the universal themes to relate to. The object of the main character's affection is a controlling, sexist, angry man. The main character has no self-esteem and no pride in her abilities or interest in developing them.

She appears written as a foil for the male characters around her. This book could have been one quarter of the length if I think the people who are raving about this book are completely wrong. This book could have been one quarter of the length if it had been edited to remove some of the ridiculous hyperbole and metaphors. It also often fails to transition the reader properly. It was originally self published, so that explains a lot.

I wrote the above before I was finished, and now that I am finished, I still think the above. Don't bother with this book, but if you must, I'll send it to you. Mar 17, Tracey rated it it was amazing. I had the first edition of AAG on my bookshelf for almost 2 years but kept putting off reading it because of its size so when I won an advance copy of the new edition I was thrilled.

I am so glad that I finally got around to reading this amazing story. I loved this novel and it will remain on my bookshelf forever as a favorite.


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  • Hamann's writing is fluid and precise. On several occasions I marked quotes and passages because they are so insightful and written so beautifully. Sometimes I felt like I was reading thoughts that I have had but just could never articulate them for myself, much less trap them into words and onto paper the way that Hamann has masterfully done. Some readers might argue that it takes too many pages to get to the point but I disagree. This book is not as focused on developing a plot as it is about Eveline's experience. That much is clear just by reading the title. To understand her we have to see the world through her eyes and hear her thoughts.

    But there is also a compelling story, even if its appears only here and there, it is one that is interesting as well as clever.

    Free Antropologis Book Anthropology of an American Girl A Novel Random House Reader's Circle

    When Elizabeth spoke at the funeral, I cried. Also, I can't understand why Rourke left after that summer and even why he left again- if their love was so strong. Why was Eveline was so painfully introspective and sensitive that she was paralyzed to do anything about it, even though the rest of the book is about that journey to get back to that place? I think I just don't get it because guess that's just because Evie and I are different types of people. Jul 29, Teresa rated it it was amazing Recommended to Teresa by: I suppose this book isn't for everyone I can see some getting impatient with it, though I never did and it might not be perfect though I think it comes close , but I loved it.

    The author has such beautiful and unique and insightful ways of describing emotions and feelings; I don't think I've ever marked so many passages in a book before. It's one of those books I never wanted to put down, as I felt addicted to the characters and their world. It took me longer to read than it should've as I ne I suppose this book isn't for everyone I can see some getting impatient with it, though I never did and it might not be perfect though I think it comes close , but I loved it.

    It took me longer to read than it should've as I neared the end, and I think it's because I wasn't ready for it to end. It certainly added to my reading pleasure that Eveline, the main character, went through high school and college only one year after I did. But much, much more than that pleasure was the pleasure of basking in the voice the author created for this young woman. As she struggles through her metamorphosis from girl to woman, Eveline is brave and unflinching as she looks at herself -- something that is hard to do in real life and something that fiction like this can help us do.

    View all 19 comments. Feb 08, Vika rated it it was ok. I got this book for free through Goodreads First Reads giveaway. Ok so this book is VERY confusing!! I have a feeling it's going to take me a long time to finish it! For now I'm giving it 2 stars, because i'm not enjoying reading this. But i will finish it, i promise! It confused me when she'd go back in her memory in mid-sentence, and couple paragraphs later would come back to finish her thought And it was annoying how every single 'guy' friend she had was in love with her..

    Overall I think the characters were very UNbelievable.. I'm just glad that it's over! Jun 19, Rachael Hewison rated it did not like it Shelves: I really did not enjoy it in the slightest. I felt nothing towards any of the characters, particularly Evie, Rourke and Rob. From what I could gather, she rarely talked or even smiled and only ever seemed to do what she was told.

    She merely followed what everyone else was doing so for me she never grew up or become independent. The structure felt all over the place, with her leaping back and forth in time with the sections not flowing easily. The author also used extremely long, needless descriptions. Even if she was just getting something from the kitchen, she seems to describe every sight, smell and sound, which just dragged the story out and was overly annoying. I also felt like the book was lacking a direction or a point and ended up just going round in a big circle. An extremely difficult and lifeless book that I would not read again.

    Jul 03, christa rated it it was amazing.


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    • I have just spent two-plus weeks marinating in a slow vacation-style paced read of "Anthropology of an American girl," by Hilary Thayer Hamann, and I think the readjustment period to normal life is going to be a bit shaky. So far it has been like yawning awake after an amazing dream. Looking around groggily and wondering, Huh. When did summer get here?

      My God, this novel is intense and brilliant, so beautiful. Words I usually reserve for Haruki Murakami. This is the best thing I have read in year I have just spent two-plus weeks marinating in a slow vacation-style paced read of "Anthropology of an American girl," by Hilary Thayer Hamann, and I think the readjustment period to normal life is going to be a bit shaky. This is the best thing I have read in years, filled with the best sentences I've ever read.

      It starts with lazy days in Southhampton, the proverbial calm before the storm. Eveline and her best friend Kate are in those in-between teen years where they have the resources to get stoned at the beach, but bike home in a girlish lanky-limbed way. Evie is an artist, open and curious, living with her free spirit, socially conscious mother in a shack by the railroad tracks. Kate is into theater, just discovering what it means to be pretty. Her mother, a wise French woman, first is dying, then will die leaving both girls without their main source of maternal comfort.

      Kate moves in with Evie, the beginning of the dissolution of the girls' relationship. Evie's boyfriend Jack is a wanderer, a philosopher, a trouble-maker according to his father -- whom he has tried to kill. A nonconformist, a musician searching for authenticity. And they have this incredible relationship like they are linked by a virtual umbilical chord.

      When Evie makes anonymous tracks in the snow in a parking lot, Jack knows that she made them. While ripping apart his bedroom in a manic fit, he finds a card addressed to a woman named Eveline beneath the carpeting, left decades earlier. Like a postcard from the universe.

      Book Review: 'Anthropology Of An American Girl' By Hilary Thayer Hamann : NPR

      They speak to each other in paragraphs about things like impulses, and whether acting on them is a feral character flaw. Between them, every gesture has deep meaning. Everything is real thinky. And so, when something chemical happens between Evie and the substitute drama teacher Harrison Rourke -- on first impact -- Jack senses it before Evie can even define it.

      Kate flounces around with a very public crush on the teacher who is directing the school play, and for Evie things are in a slow burn beneath the surface. Though they have barely spoken, every time Evie runs into Roarke there is this physical reaction involving gazes and brushes and touching. At a time when good old-fashioned longing has become the Play-Doh Fun Factory of Stephenie Meyer, Hamann handles it in such a deep and real way.

      These characters aren't wearing metaphorical chastity belts. They are plodding through a life beneath a heavy, heavy blanket of reality. Where wanting something, and needing something, are so beautiful just for the sake of ripping someone to life and making them feel something and everything. Finally, in a dramatic moment that outdoes the greatest of bodice-rippers, they are able to be together. They spend the summer in Montauk, with the knowledge that there is an end-point. Evie will be going off to NYU at the end of the summer; the ever-mysterious Roarke has plans, too.

      But briefly they are naked and happy, drinking and in the sun. Friends and parties and free to finally knead at each other moan. Evie in a dorm room, broken with loss. She is taken in by the posse he left behind: Rob, who is Roarke's lifelong wingman and fiercely loyal, unquestionably in love with Evie, charged with watching out for her; Mark, a big time gamer with unlimited cash, who nurses her back to health after she miscarries the summer love-child.

      Evie gets into a relationship with Mark, a sort of oppressive character who keeps her in cars and money, the freedom to make her art He is fine with that, and considers possessing her to be a great big "fuck you" to his rival Roarke. Of course there are hiccups. Occasional Roarke sightings that open old wounds, and insight into his demons. Turns out he's a boxer, and pretty good at it, too. Evie coasts along barely playing the role of a human being.

      There are four things about this novel that I am overlooking in favor of the incredible experience of reading it: It is pages long, which is too long for this story. Can I think of anything I would cut? Would I want anyone to monkey with the way it has been written? It was originally self-published by Hamann, then picked up by a major publishing company that had their way with it already. At times, the nonlinear parts get boggy. It made me think a lot about the difference between "overwrought" and true genuine emotion bared freely.

      I'm not convinced that someone else, maybe even me in another time or place, would read it and snort like a skeptic. Deep into the book I read something that indicated this story is semi-autobiographical, which taints it a bit. Thinking that this really happened makes me lean more toward "overwrought" than "genuine emotion bared freely," which is counter-intuitive, I know. Regardless, I stand by my belief that this is a stunning book filled with so much smart, so much great phrasing, intense imagery, and a beautiful story. View all 7 comments. Jan 05, Lisa rated it it was ok.

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      Let me start by saying that I'm glad I waited until I was finished with this novel to review it. It started slowly and continued painfully at a snail's pace throughout. Relatively speaking, there is very little dialogue in this book; it is more or less pages of our protagonist's internal monologue. It's the typical story of a young woman who is adored by every man who enters her life.

      My issue with this is simply that I could not identify with these men at all. I felt like I was given no log Let me start by saying that I'm glad I waited until I was finished with this novel to review it. I felt like I was given no logical reason why anyone would even want to have a conversation with Eveline, let alone pine for her. On the other hand, the same can be said about the desirability of her suitors: I admit that, because this novel was so introspective, the reason for the lack of explanation could simply be that Evie herself did not know But I was still left feeling no true affinity for any of the men, even Harrison or Jack.

      Evaline told the readers that she loved them, and I accepted that, but I couldn't begin to feel it myself. I greatly enjoyed the story of this novel, and I'm ultimately happy I stuck with it. I found myself needing to know how it would end, even if I didn't really care what happened. Like others have said, though, this book is unnecessarily long and rife with similes. It seems that the author spent a significant amount more time with a thesaurus in front of her, trying to choose the most poetic and pretentious word, instead of simply telling a lovely story.

      This novel would benefit from whole chunks being pared down, as mundane details did less to create a vivid picture than to simply lose or confuse the reader.

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      For a book of this length especially one with so little external dialogue , the reader should have a better understanding of the central characters. I leave this book still thinking about its story, but with no attachment to the characters I spent so much time with. The language was beautiful, but its beauty came at the expense of full character development. I know every detail of every room in each scene of this novel, but I have no idea why Eveline did the things she did. Jun 16, Cathrine marked it as gave-up-on Shelves: Hamann's beautifully languid writing in this book was what lured me in, and in the end it was her writing that made me put it down two-thirds of the way through.

      The way she was able to turn every detached, physical description into some deep, philosophical notion was at first enjoyable and stimulating. But after pages of it over and over, I feel like I'm stumbling around a smoke-filled room with my arms out trying to find something concrete to lean on.

      I'm to the point where I just want to Hamann's beautifully languid writing in this book was what lured me in, and in the end it was her writing that made me put it down two-thirds of the way through. I'm to the point where I just want to smack the main character, Eveline, until she tells me what is really going on around her and what she feels about it. Instead, she's looking up at the ceiling observing how the sunlight is filtering through the crystal prisms hanging from the chandelier, and how the separated waves of color remind her of the separate pieces of herself that were once whole.

      I'm done with you, Eveline. I'm just going to assume that the last pages are more of the same and I'm going to move on to some paperback beach read while my head clears. Apr 22, Eve rated it it was ok. The plot itself is simple. Young Eveline as in Eve, the mother of all mankind , grows up in a small beach community, raised by a divorced mother who works hard to support the both of them and pays Evie the compliment of treating her with benign neglect. Evie saves her filial adoration for her best friend's mom, but that woman dies in short order, and Evie is left -- not really alone, but not really supported either.

      In her junior year she falls in love with Jack, a beautiful, self-destructive rebel who's the son of a monster-father who wreaks havoc when he can. Kate, Evie's best friend, moves in with her after her mom dies, probably -- in terms of the narrative -- so that Evie can learn to separate from her friends and prepare herself to find the perfect mate. And in her senior year, she does find that person, in the form of a substitute drama teacher -- a young fellow in his 20s, seven years older than she, named Harrison Rourke, who is also a professional boxer with tenuous connections to the New Jersey mob.

      It almost goes without saying that Rourke is dazzlingly handsome, has a sterling character according to his own lights , and deeply respects his mother. Both he and Evie struggle against this grand passion, to no avail. By the time she graduates from high school, Evie has broken up with Jack. She and Rourke spend a magical summer in Montauk, plumbing the depths of their attraction to each other.

      Then the summer is over. Rourke goes off to fulfill mysterious duties, and Evie enrolls in NYU. She ends up living with Mark, a sniveling, reptilian, sidewinder-stockbroker who has coveted her for some time. He also hates Rourke with a dreadful hatred, since Rourke is a good person and he is not. It burned my throat, searing and disinfecting it, making me think of animal skins tanned to make teepees.

      Indians used to get high, and when they did, they felt high just the same as me. Her left foot and my right foot were touching. They were the same size and we shared shoes. I leaned forward and played with the plasticcoated tip of her sneaker lace, poking it into the rivet holes of my Tretorns as the rain began to descend halfheartedly before us.

      In my knapsack I found some paper and a piece of broken charcoal, and I began to sketch Kate. The atmosphere conformed to her bones the way a pillow meets a sleeping head. I tried to recall the story of the cloth of St.

      Hilary Thayer Hamann's 'Anthropology of an American Girl'

      Veronica -- something about Christ leaving his portrait in blood or sweat on a woman's handkerchief. I imagined the impression of Kate's face remaining in the air after she moved away. I sensed I probably knew what she meant. Sometimes our thoughts would intertwine, and in my mind I could see them, little threads of topaz paving a tiny Persian byway. My hand sawed across the paper I was sketching on, moving mechanically, because that's the way to move hands when you're high and sitting in an autumn rain. Autumn rains are different from summer ones.

      When I was seven, there were lots of summer rains. Or maybe seven is just the age when you become conscious of rain. That's when I learned that when it rains in one place, it doesn't rain all over the world. My dad and I were driving through a shower, and we reached a line where the water ended. Sun rays windmilled down, and our faces and arms turned gilded pink, the color of flamingos -- or was it flamencos?

      That was the same year I learned that everyone gets eyeglasses eventually and that there's no beginning to traffic. That last thing bothered me a lot. Whenever I got into a car, I used to think, Today might be the day we reach the front. The rain let up. I stood and gave Kate my hand. We walked our bikes to the crest of the asphalt lot and leaned them against the split rail fence. The sea was bloated from the tide. It was dark and thick on top: A hurricane was forming off the coast of Cuba, and Cuba isn't far from where we lived on the South Shore of Long Island, not in terms of weather.

      Surfers in black rubber sat slope- backed on boards near the jetty, waiting for waves, steady as insects feeding off a deeply breathing beast, lifting and dropping with each wheeze of their massive host. I stripped down to my underwear and T- shirt and left my clothes in a pile.

      Kate did the same. The sand closest to the shore was inscribed with drop marks from the rain, and there were springy bits of seaweed the color of iodine gyrating in the chalky foam. I pushed through until I couldn't see my calves anymore. The water was purplish and rough, and it knocked against me, setting me off balance. It felt good to succumb -- sometimes you get tired, always having to be strong in yourself.

      Dad said that in Normandy during World War II soldiers had to climb from ships into the sea and then onto shore. They had waded through the ocean with packs on their backs and guns in their arms. He hadn't fought in Normandy; he just knew about it because he knows lots of things and he's always reading. He said the men had to get on the beach and kill or be killed.

      I wondered what those soldiers had eaten for breakfast -- scrambled eggs, maybe -- all the boys lining two sides of a galley's gangling table, hanging their heads and taking dismal forkfuls while thinking about what was awaiting them on the shore.