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3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,019 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
Acclaimed author E.R. Frank writes provocative fiction. America, a foulmouthed, yet endearing 16-year-old, attempts suicide and is placed in the care of psychiatrists at Ridgeway mental hospital.
There he learns to cope with a past filled with neglect and mistreatment with the help of Dr. B. Alternating between Americas present- day stay at the hospital and his past, livin
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 1st 2003 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (first published 2002)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,119)
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Jan 22, 2011 Lydia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-read
America is a child who has fallen through the cracks of society. His story is a highly disturbing one. Told in fragments, which intertwine and interrelate, America tries to explain his tortured existence of feeling like no one who is nowhere. He has been subject to sexual abuse, has attempted suicide, has lived in the foster system, is a runaway. While he is committed to a residential hospital, he meets Dr. B. Like all therapeutic relationships, the road is rocky and rough, until America can sta ...more
Becky Ginther
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 08, 2012 Misplacedparisian rated it really liked it
I loved the story of America. Just wish someone besides Rosie O'donnell had produced the movie because I laughed all through it, whereas the book actually got me deep.

America is a young boy of mixed heritage (black mother? unknown father) who feels like he fits nowhere. He's lost and can't seem to be found by anyone because people do not see him. The system fails him so many times he resigns himself to go wherever the winds blows. The only stable figure in his life would've been his foster mothe
Phoenix_ Phoenix_
This book influenced me greatly. Have a kid who gets lost in the system, drinks vodka and Coke as a little kid to loosen him up because of one of his reckless guardians, the naked lady lighter, five o' clock at the fountain in the fucking AM, attempted suicide through hanging as an adolescent, abandonment, crying for months on end and never stopping after a tragic fire that brought death to a criminal loved, endless "huh's" during therapy with a psychiatrist, pain and loss, loneliness, survival, ...more
Nick Ferranto
Feb 25, 2013 Nick Ferranto rated it it was ok
I did not like this book at all. "America" was probably the least enjoyable book I have ever read. There were no exciting parts that a person would hope to see in a book like this, about a kid who has had a very troubled past. If I were E.R. Frank, I would seriously reconsider writing this book and make it much more entertaining or exciting. A book like this, which is targeting an audience of about my age, should have many ups and downs and things that a person would never guess would happen, th ...more
May 17, 2012 Trisha rated it really liked it
A book my 13 year old read after finding it on the shelf at the library. On one hand, I'm sad she read this on her own. There is definitely mature content for a younger teen. But, on the other hand, she gave me the book and told me to read it so we could talk about it.

Well, I read it. It is a tough and violent tale of childhood gone very very wrong. I can't imagine how tough it would be for a 6 year old to be let down by almost every adult in their life.

The story is told in current time with fl
Mar 31, 2009 Roxy rated it liked it
At first, when I started reading this book it was really confusing for me. I didn't understand the writing structure of the author. But once I started reading more and more of the story. I got why America a nine-year old boy was so messed up. Not only mental, where he was feeling insecure of himself. But the trama that made him feel special, yet he didn't know any better because he had never really had any love in his life. And with this he had finally thought that he was being loved for once in ...more
Mar 31, 2009 Mayra rated it really liked it
This book was really confusing at first because when I started reading it I didn't knew what it was talking about and I got kind of lost. After a few days reading the book I founded interesting and easy to read, I just needed to get into it and comprehend every thing it was talking about. In my opinion I liked this book a lot because it really got my attention and I got to learn a lot from it. One of the things I learned from this book was not to give up in yourself. I know this might be hard fo ...more
May 07, 2016 Amy rated it did not like it
America's story is certainly filled with some raw and dark moments that resound with the reader, but for me there was just something a little off. Firstly, America comes across as a fantasy character to me, a romanticized idea of what a troubled inner city youth is, rather than the real thing -ie. he secretly reads and loves Laura Ingalls Wilder. I never believed he was real. Then the book jumbles between various time sequences and it is unclear what specific age America is through most of the b ...more
Int'l librarian
Like many school librarians, I’ve read a lot of young adult psychotraumas. Even so, this one is a severe shocker. Child sexual abuse leads to fatal violence and twisted sexual torment. Much of the storyline is set in psychotherapy. The language is profane and abusive, and the characters are difficult for anyone with a happy home to relate to. Bottom line, there’s only so much ick I can take.

For those with sterner psyches, there could be a lot to like here. America tells most of his stories thro
Alonzo Garcia
Jan 05, 2016 Alonzo Garcia is currently reading it

E.R. Frank is an American fiction writer and also a psychotherapist. She wrote many young adult and teen-fiction books such as "America", explaining that she is also a clinical worker and she worked with many young Americans with bad intentions of violence and vandalizing that have been abused and sexually harassed either with their parents, relatives, or anyone else. The story takes place in various locations around New York City. One of the main character's name is America, who was born with a
Jun 20, 2007 Sally rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Young Adults
Shelves: youngadult
America is the victim of the foster care system. A nurturing relationship with Mrs. Harper when he was very young helps him overcome the many traumas that happen to him over the next twelve years. That and a good therapist.
Sep 16, 2014 Janay added it
In the book America, it was about a male with color to his skin and how in the child care system it was hard for him to find a decent home to find and at the same time it also showed the readers why he often acted the way he did. Most of his anger coming from the rough background of his parents and how he was always sent back to child care services and having hard time finding a home to actually call home.
I personally enjoyed the book and I like how it actually gave me insight to what is was li
Sep 14, 2007 Liz rated it it was amazing
devastating and amazing
Colin Sabitus
Nov 12, 2015 Colin Sabitus rated it it was amazing
This book allowed me to see the change of the main character, America. Starting out as a troubled kid, he was shown to be a bad kid in many ways. But by the end of the book, the reader can see how the author has made America an overall better behaved and a more well rounded person. Within the characters transformation, we the author also experiences the importance of the role of keeping certain people close to you in life because it will help you get through tougher times and keep you motivated ...more
Shelby Brown
Oct 28, 2010 Shelby Brown rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 30, 2013 Shawn added it
Book: America
Author: E.R Frank
Reviewd by: shawn
The book America is about a 15 year old boy named America who is sent to Ridgway to get help for thoughts of suicide. An interesting fact about America is that he doesn’t like to think, wonder or talk about anything when the doctor asks him some of the questions.
You really get deep into America’s life story. It talks about thing like how his life was happy and cheerful and how it changed within weeks on how he turned bad. It also tells you on what
Feb 18, 2009 Shel rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Frank, E.R. (2002). America. New York: Simon Pulse.


The story of sexually abused and institutionalized fifteen-year-old America is a challenge to get through. Written by a clinical social worker who has “known many Americas,” the book switches back and forth between ‘then’ and ‘now’ showing the experiences that brought America to the office of Dr. B, the psychiatrist who just may be able to help him decide against committing suicide.

America struggles with being ‘lost’ and feeling
Cathleen Ash
This is America:

(read page 93 - middle)
I’m scared poopless. I’m afraid to sleep because of the dreams, and I’m afraid to be awake because all these flashes keep squeezing through and I can’t stuff them back the way I used to. I’m afraid of never being able to get back up there to Everest, and I’m afraid that if I get back up there, I’ll never come down, and I’m afraid of Dr. B. because he sees me and he knows things and when they see you and know things they mess everything up, and I’m afraid I’
Dawn Ang
Oct 27, 2011 Dawn Ang rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
America is one of those characters that you just can't get out of your head. I read this book several years ago and I can still remember him and his story.

This novel is thought-provoking in ways that YA fiction is failing to do be today. It is the story of a troubled young man, America, and his struggle to cope with the hard life he is forced to live due to his absent mother and low societal status. The author illustrates a life for America with such substance that it forces you think twice abo
Mar 15, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing
This was one of my favorite books in late elementary/early middle school; I re-read it recently out of curiosity.

I still really loved it. I love ER Frank so much for writing such raw, hard-hitting, no-holds-barred YA books. She writes about incredibly serious, dark topics like abandonment, poverty, drug abuse, suicide, and sexual abuse, and she does it in such an honest way. America, in particular, delves into the very-rarely discussed issues of sexual abuse of young boys in the most amazingly f
The story of a troubled teen of mixed races who has spent most of his life in the foster care system. After a failed suicide attempt he has been paced in a mental health care facility and it is through therapy that he is able to open up the wounds of his past and finally begin to heal.

The horrors that America faces throughout his story are difficult to read and include neglect, molestation, poverty, and abandonment. In order to survive, America builds a wall to protect himself from anything that
John Mcdonnell
Mar 08, 2010 John Mcdonnell rated it it was amazing
America was just a great novel. I think the best books are ones that change your thinking and help u develop into a better person. America is one of those books. America is a boy who sees himself as a nobody. His therapist, Dr. B asks him "where do u see yourself in five years?" America responds with "nowhere." His troubled past is so much full of despair and terrible abuse that you feel so bad for this poor kid. I recommend this to any kid who feels neglected and abused. They will understand wh ...more
Sep 20, 2007 Briynne rated it it was ok
Not awful, I suppose...but lacking. Considering this is meant to be a young adult novel, it reads rather like a pysch 101 textbook's chapter on troubled teens. There's just too much analyzing in this book - it's repetitive and gets boring quite quickly. The book is heavy-handed and the foreshadowing is even more so. Seriously, if you didn't know that Browning was going to turn out to be really creepy/pervy from just about the first major scene he was in, you probably shouldn't have even bothered ...more

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

For mature readers only!!!
Abused and troubled kid tries to make it back out of “being bad” through an extended relationship with one particular therapist. I was most interested in the therapy conversations. The chapters flip between “then” and “now”, giving you the history that makes him so troubled. A lot of dialogue, most of it rings pretty true. Definitely for mature (XIIIs) audiences; explicit sexual material in terms of his trauma and development. Got me toward the
Laura Romanovich
Jun 03, 2015 Laura Romanovich rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up
Saw this for free this week on PulseIt, and decided to give it a shot. I lasted about 60 or so pages, before realizing I had no idea what was going on. I could not relate at all to America, and I think that was part of why I wasn't a fan.

This book may be enjoyable to some, but not for me.
Nov 25, 2009 Eliu rated it it was amazing
The book America is about A BOY/MAN named America (weird name, I know).
The book talks about America's life from age 4 to age 20. It includes the journey to get out the place he dreads.
The main idea or theme for America is courage. I say courage because America has battled from being a lil punk and a loner as a child to everybody respecting him as a man. America's courageous acts made him look like a man.
How did America feel in the place he dreaded for 4 years? I spent time with this question
Dec 29, 2008 Terry rated it it was amazing
This is a story that fans of gritty, realistic teen fiction will respond to. As I read, I was reminded of Ellen Hopkins' Impulse, as both books allow the reader to get inside the head of damaged characters; the character of Dr. B. recalls Robin William's therapist in the movie "Good Will Hunting." America is at once familiar and unique, a boy so damaged he is dangerous to himself and others.

With clearly marked flashbacks and realistic language, the book is perfect for readers who struggle with m
Jul 14, 2015 Dirks rated it did not like it
At first the books format of switching between "then" and "now" was hard to comprehend with the story line. I kept waiting for the book to pick up, but found myself reading a very depressing story of a boy whom had experienced all the worlds wrongs and never experienced love.

Jennifer Navarrete
Jan 31, 2016 Jennifer Navarrete rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Another young adult novel with an upsetting story line. I started reading this one day in class while my students were working on their banned books project (this book is on the list) and decided to finish it. I didn't love it but found it engaging enough to finish.
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America 2 10 Mar 11, 2012 08:15AM  
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E. R. Frank is the author of two highly praised novels for Atheneum: America and Friction. Her first novel was Life Is Funny, winner of the Teen People Book Club NEXT Award for YA Fiction and was also a top-ten ALA 2001 Quick Pick.

In addition to being writer, E. R. Frank is also a clinical social worker and psychotherapist. She works with adults and adolescents and specializes in trauma.
More about E.R. Frank...

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