3 July 2016

My Favourite Manson Girl - Review

My Favourite Manson Girl
by Alison Umminger

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Previously released in the US as American Girls

Anna has had a miserable year. Everything feels wrong with her life. And rather than stay and face the mess, she steals a credit card and books herself a seat on the first flight out of town to Los Angeles, to crash with her sister. But soon after she lands, cold reality soon dawns on her: Hollywood isn't the escape she needs. She is trapped in a town full of lost souls and wannabes, with no friends, no cash and no return ticket.

When she's offered a job researching the murderous Manson girls for a dubious film, she reluctantly accepts - she needs the money. But soon enough, among the fake smiles and glitter-fuelled parties, things turn from strange, to dark, to dangerous . . .

This is not going to be the summer Anna had in mind.

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I received a copy from the UK publisher (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review!

What I Say: I hadn't really given much thought to the girls who carried out such awful deeds with and for Charles Manson until now, but Alison Umminger address the issue and made me take note. She poses the question of how these girls came to be with Manson and looks at the parallels between them and main character Anna.

In a time where most teens would be looking forward to a fun summer at home, Anna's life has been pretty dramatic and unsettling. She flees home and runs away to LA to stay with her equally troubled older sister Delia. A condition of Anna staying with Delia is that she gets a job for the summer to pay her way. She finds herself thrown headfirst into the Hollywood scene. Anna accompanies Delia to acting jobs and assisting with researching the lives of the Manson girls.

I didn't particularly like Anna, but to be honest I'm not entirely sure we're meant to. Apart from getting annoyed at her sometimes childish POV, this didn't lessen my enjoyment of the story, and to be honest this was mainly to do with her age. Anna's research really did make me think about how these young women went from normal girls to violent murderers.

I loved the story within a story aspect - Not only do we see a character in a story about the Manson girls researching the Manson girls, but we're also treated to another form of mise en abyme with the children's TV show several of the characters work on. This also provided another way to examine the pitfalls of fame and address how young people can be corrupted.

I enjoyed this coming of age story and am now off to catch up on episodes of Aquarius!

4 Stars in my Sky!


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