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Anthropology of an American Girl

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3.29 of 5 stars 3.29  ·  rating details  ·  2,947 ratings  ·  621 reviews
Self-published in 2003, Hilary Thayer Hamann’s Anthropology of an American Girl touched a nerve among readers, who identified with the sexual and intellectual awakening of its heroine, a young woman on the brink of adulthood. A moving depiction of the transformative power of first love, Hamann’s first novel follows Eveline Auerbach from her high school years in East Hampto...more
Hardcover, 624 pages
Published May 25th 2010 by Spiegel & Grau (first published 2003)
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Crossroads by Mary TingUnder the Dome by Stephen KingThe Innocent Man by John GrishamAnthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer HamannLet the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
Books you want to read in 2011
3rd out of 95 books — 55 voters
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. RowlingThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. RowlingJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Over 500 pages!!!!
117th out of 354 books — 79 voters


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Community Reviews

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hannaH
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mary
Whew! I'm glad that's over.

Anthropology of an American Girl is...long. Often boring. Overwrought. Underedited. 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. Disappointingly cliched. 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...more
Rebecca
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...more
Tracey
Full disclosure: 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.

H.T. Hamann's writing is fluid and precise. On several occasions I marked quotes and passages because they are so insightful and written so beautifully....more
Vika
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! (I'm only on page 66/out of 606) and I just figured out who's mom died and who has/had cancer and who Jack is.. lol. For now I'm giving it 2 stars, because i'm not enjoying reading this. :( ...that much. But i will finish it, i promise! no matter how long it'll take me.
Ok.. now that i'm done with this book, I guess it would deserve...more
Teresa
Aug 08, 2010 Teresa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Teresa by: Cynthia
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; I felt addicted to the characters and the world they were in while I was reading. It took me longer to re...more
Cathrine
Jul 21, 2010 Cathrine marked it as gave-up-on
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 400 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...more
Rachael Hewison
I’m somewhat baffled by the positive reviews this book has received. I really did not enjoy it in the slightest.
My main issue was that the entire book seemed to be about the love between Evie and Rourke except I didn’t really buy into their love. From my point of view they barely talked or touched and I just couldn’t understand how she could describe herself as his soulmate when they hadn’t exchanged a word.
I felt nothing towards any of the characters, particularly Evie, Rourke and Rob. I could...more
christa
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...more
Lisa
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 400 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...more
Emma Bolden
I'm way behind on Goodreads, mostly because of this book. I couldn't decided what to say about it. I'm still not sure what to say about it. I wanted to love it. Like, beyond loving it. For the most part, I did. But for the other part ... Well, this book reminded me of what Janet Burroway says about proofs, about how you have to provide enough concrete, specific details to make things believable. I'm not sure Hamann did that. Everyone is completely fascinated by Eveline, obsessively so -- I mean,...more
Jessica
I received this book through the First Reads program. I was shocked to find that it's more than 600 pages; a book has to be amazing to keep me reading for that long! It took me about a week, but I finished it and really enjoyed it. I must say, the first 200 or so pages were a tad rough getting through, but after that, I was disappointed to have to put the book down and sleep.

This book is poetic, philosophical, and real. It depicts the reality of the transformation of life a girl goes through wh...more
Emily Kobler
This was an amazing coming of age story and a fascinating look at the life of a disenfranchised young woman growing up in the years following the civil rights and women's liberation movements. The main character in the book, Evie, is independent, smart, creative and modern and this book follows her turbulent and often misguided quest for something like happiness. Set in the late '70s and early '80s, Evie grows up with an imperfect but loving mother, she and her friends feel entitled to their fre...more
Eve
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bonnie
This book sprung up on my Amazon recommendations based on several books I read and loved, so I figured I would give it a whirl. I am so glad I opted to get this from the library rather than paying. I can't think of a single good thing to say about the book. The prose is clunky, the main character is like a every protaganist in every 1970's afterschool special rolled into a single girl. For the record, I grew up in the same era, and spent my young adulthood in NYC with a moneyed, artistic and adv...more
Sarah
Really a 2.5, but I'm not feeling charitable enough to round up. I think that the NPR review, which compared this book to Twilight and the main character to Bella, got it right. It set itself up in the beginning as an intellectual/philosophical exploration into the mind of "an american girl" and I kept waiting for the payoff. Other than the extreme narcissism of the main character, there was nothing remotely anthropological, intellectually stimulating or even interesting here.

If I were to make...more
Summer
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erica-Lynn
If Henry James and Margaret Attwood could have a literary child, it might be Hilary Thayer Hamann. Evoking James’ Portrait of a Lady or Daisy Miller, and Atwood’s Surfacing, Hamann’s debut novel Anthropology of an American Girl poetically, and brutally, follows the seemingly ordinary but at once riveting life of narrator and protagonist Evaline with obsessive detail and powerful insight. It is a modern coming-of-age epic which brings to light this complex and artistic young woman, and it is very...more
Sara
“I was an American girl; I possessed what our culture valued most — independence and blind courage.”

I had heard good reviews about this book, and there was no waiting list for the eBook version of it, so I downloaded away and started in. And then paused, confused. This didn’t seem at all to be a work of great literature, but rather a long-winded and rambling narrative of a rather self-absorbed teen. Well, I thought to myself, this is about an American girl, and not the Pleasant Company brand eit...more
Heather Moss
This was the best, most quotable novel I've read in a really long time. I have pages and pages of quotes I've written down! I never wanted it to end, but was satisfied when it did. If you are like me -- a person who enjoys reading about high school and college women, does not care one bit about plot, enjoys minutiae, loves first person narratives, wants protagonists to be challenging, and is crazy about the English language -- I think you will enjoy this book. If you're into plot and get annoyed...more
Katie
A First Reads win!

There are many things I like about Hamann's writing yet there are several things I dislike about this book.

Let's start with the good stuff. Generally speaking, I like the writing. There are some beautiful sentences and Hamann's attention to detail is admirable. One of the strengths of this book is Eveline's idiosyncratic ways...I found her observations about life curious, hilarious, sharp, and wise. I'm glad to read a novel where the main character feels like a unique individua...more
Cynthia
Do you remember the first time you read Austen’s “Emma” or Bronte’s “Jane Eyre”? That’s the emotional umph Hamann’s book had for me. She creates an entire world and a unique world view that makes you suspend your own. Eveline comes from a working class, broken family. She’s an only child. Her mother teaches literature her dad paints signs. She’s an aspiring artist. The book centers around Eveline’s life between 16 and 22. She somehow knows herself better than I remember knowing myself during tho...more
Sally
The main character, Eveline's mother is an English professor somewhere in coastal New York. Eveline's name comes from The Dubliners; which explains the lengthy prose and overly-adequate descriptions of the minutiae of daily existence. Like Murakami, the author allows us to completely inhabit the sometimes overly-sensitive skin of an adolescent girl.

"...I always figured he was like a body without skin, and he had to sort of desensitize himself. I didn't mind the way he predicted his own disappoin...more
Rachel Carr
To read more reviews check out Reading Rendezvous at: www.missomnimedia.com/tag/reading-ren...


It took me some time to think about how to start this review not for the lack of content or enjoyment but because the topics discussed in this novel are extremely heavy and thought provoking. Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann is strong and endearing. Yet these are only the first words that come to my mind. Do not be put off by the size or the amount of pages, as this novel spans a...more
Sara Strand
OK. I'm nothing if not 100% honest with my readers about everything I write about and my book reviews are no different. I did not finish this book. For me to say that is a huge deal because I finished two books I absolutely hated, including Wuthering Heights and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. But the difference with those books were that I really felt like it'd come around and I'd eventually get it. I didn't, but throughout both books I really felt like it'd come around.

And I've really thought ab...more
Reading Teen (Andye)
Right from the start, it must be said: This book is a brick. Not just a brick but pretty much brick in every sense of a way a book could be a brick. For starters, I am pretty sure these 600 pages could be used to hold open a door or be plastered into your wall to give it strength. My copy fell into the bathtub and still survived, instead just adding another inch of strength to its massive form.

Yet, it's a brick between the covers too. It has moderate violence, heavy profanity, very heavy sexual...more
Inbal
This book was a major disappointment! I picked it up at a book store cause I liked the title and the reviews on the cover and was really looking forward to reading what I thought would be a cheese free coming of age story. Six pages into it and I realised this is not what I bargained for but decided to go ahead and keep reading in the hopes it would get better.

Good news is it does get better. Bad news is it only gets better around the 300 page mark for about 150-200 pages before regressing back...more
Kathy
How much of a first novel is autobiographical? In Anthropology of an American Girl, I wondered how much of the protagonist’s being came directly from the author’s own experiences. I know that at some point in the book, Eveline muses that people tell her she looks like one of the models from the Robert Palmer video. A quick flip to the back inside cover and – there it is!

The story takes place during Eveline’s last year of high school (1980) and the following four years attending college. Eveline...more
Nina
I would have given this book 2 1/2 stars if that had been an option. A long, unwieldy, dramatically metaphoric, long winded story about a neurasthenic girl of the 70's. I found the character, Evie Auerbach, to be completely unbelievable, from the way she spoke to the things she did. I lived through the seventies and never met anyone like this chick. A wierd combination of total confidence in her beauty, talent, etc., and yet self-hating and making horrible choices. The book is way too long. The...more
Mojdehp
This book was SO long, for no reason except the author must be one of those people who likes to hear herself talk. The main character has no character at all. There is no emotion in any of the events or the words of the character. We're just told what she feels, but I doubt she feels anything. This book would be a lot better if it were about 400 pages shorter. When authors explain all their symbolism and metaphors to you its not only insulting but remarkably boring to read. Can you tell how much...more
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Boys will be boys, that's what people say. No one ever mentions how girls have to be something other than themselves altogether. We are to stifle the same feelings that boys are encouraged to display. We are to use gossip as a means of policing ourselves -- this way those who do succumb to sex but are not damaged by it are damaged instead by peer malice. Girls demand a covenant because if one gives in, others will be expected to do the same. We are to remain united in cruelty, ignorance, and aversion. Or we are to starve the flesh from our bones, penalizing the body for its nature, castigating ourselves for advances we are powerless to prevent. We are to make false promises then resist the attentions solicited. Basically we are to become expert liars. (p. 65)” 219 likes
“It's better to keep grief inside. Grief inside works like bees or ants, building curious and perfect structures, complicating you. Grief outside means you want something from someone, and chances are good you won't get it.” 80 likes
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