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The English American

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3.25 of 5 stars 3.25  ·  rating details  ·  1,474 ratings  ·  308 reviews
When Pippa Dunn,adopted as an infant and raised terribly British, discovers that her birth parents are from the American South, she finds that "culture clash" has layers of meaning she'd never imagined. Meet The English American, a fabulously funny, deeply poignant debut novel that sprang from Larkin's autobiographical one-woman show of the same name.

In many ways, Pippa
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Paperback, 368 pages
Published November 17th 2009 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,398)
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K
Aug 06, 2009 K rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Uncritical chick lit fans who find the Brit./American cultural divide just hysterical
Shelves: chicklit
This was a good book for a vacation, I guess, but despite my wanting a light read, I just couldn't get past the standard chick lit cliches and forced humor.

Pippa Dunn is an adoptee from the U.S. raised in a British home. Although her adoptive family is appropriately loving, she feels she has never fit in, and at 28, goes on an odyssey to meet her American birth parents. This premise is a convenient excuse for the tired old British vs. American jokes (English = emotionally constipated; American =
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Alison
As an American who has always felt very much "at home" in British literature, I've always though of myself as an "English American" of another sort. I purchased the book after listening to an interview with the author on an XM radio show. Ms. Larkin sounded very clever and witty, and I had high hopes for the book, but was disappointed and abandoned it at about 2/3 of the way through. (My New Year's resolution is to quit wasting time finishing frivolous books that are giving me no pleasure; class ...more
Karol
This should have been a good book, based on its premise of an American-born girl being adopted and raised by British parents, then returning to the U.S. to meet her birth parents.

Unfortunately, the birth mother was so disgusting a character - a total liar, utterly selfish, hateful and unfair towards some people and a true user of others - that I could hardly stomach the book. Also, although described by both birth parents as a product of a "great love", Pippa (the adopted girl) was actually the
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Jen
Pretty disappointed in this book. I really wanted to like it; I'm a total Anglophile so this book's premise was very appealing. It started off well, but became bogged down in over-the-top characters whose personalities overshadowed the story, or what story there was.

The book is about a young woman nicknamed Pippa who was adopted from America at birth by a British couple who thought they couldn't have kids (but wound up having a birth daughter a year later after the adoption.) Because she always
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Sara
What did I think? I loved it! It's been a long time since I laughed and cried while reading a book.

This is a wonderfully poignant, engaging novel about a woman's personal growth. After 10 or so years of dating, Pippa Dunn, 28, realizes that she can't love another until she knows and loves herself. Pippa Dunn's story of the search for her birth parents is thoroughly enchanting and amazing.
Like the main character, the author was born in Amercia and was adopted and raised in England.

I urge you to
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Elisha (lishie)
I liked the premise & the first chapter pulled me in, but the rest of the book left me wanting. I only kept reading because I actually liked Pippa. Too bad I didn't like many of the supporting characters... They seemed one dimensional & irritated me.

Plus, I get it, Americans cannot "make tea." Too bad this does not go over well for this Southern-Floridian raised Irish-American who won't touch anything but Twining's Earl Grey w/ milk & sugar or honey, please. The English-American "di
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Liz
Sometimes you come across a book that hits you at a time that you really either needed it or you can really relate to it--this is that book for me. This semi-autobiographical novel is about a woman who is adopted by an English couple whom she adores, but still longs to know her biological parents and goes on a journey of self-discovery as she finds them. She comes over to America and it is more than she bargained for! Alison Larkin's literary voice is both funny and moving and if you know me you ...more
Judy
Pippa Dunn was born in America but adopted by well-to-do British parents who gave her a wonderful home and life, but as an adult she craves knowledge of who she "really" is and seeks out her birth parents. She finds a crazy mother living in Georgia and working as an art promoter, and a mysterious father who might be a spy, might work for the CIA, or might be making money illegally from foreign governments. She quickly identifies with their looks and quirks, only to find out that she is more diff ...more
Gretchen
Jun 14, 2012 Gretchen rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Gretchen by: Alison Larkin
Shelves: current-fiction
Well, Alison, how many months has it taken me to get started on this? In my defense, I've been reading books on meditation for a training I did at Kripalu, and as a follow up to figure out how that training applies to me, personally.

Once I let myself pick it up, I barely put it down.

"I think it's one of the saddest things in the world -- don't you? -- when people are upset because the direction they're going in feels all wrong for you -- and you know you just have to go the opposite way."

It to
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Aaron
I just could not finish this book. I tried and tried. I got halfway through, but most of that was a struggle. The author was also the narrator, and she was a very good narrator. But there was no arc to the story. It was like a bunch of little steps, one bit after another, but no plot, no storyline, almost no conflict or mystery or anything to grab you. It was just kind of bland and boring. And there were many miss opportunities for ... I don't know what to call it, maybe deeper analysis, or disc ...more
Lynn Grubb
The English American (a review by Karen O¿Keefe and Lynn Grubb)
As published (in part) in the Union Jack News, June 2008.

As a reunited adoptee, I could strongly relate to Pippa Dunn--a creative and "appallingly untidy" English girl searching for the missing pieces of her identity. Her discovery at the age of 15 that her birth parents are American, coupled with her lifelong desire to unmask her fantasy birth parents into real humans, is best described by Pippa herself: "There's a natural law with
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Kristin
Loved this book; it takes you on the journey of a young woman adopted by Brits to find her American birthparents, across a raw emotional landscape, and through cultures as farflung as the eccentric rural south, gay bars in NYC, and the secretive world of Washington DC military contractors. Home base is what she's looking for. Does she find it in a cozy cup of tea with her frumpy but contented adopted family in England? Or her adventurous but confusing birthparents whose allegiances are both guar ...more
Mary Overton
from an interview with the author:
"People have no idea of the huge internal and external obstacles that face adopted people who decide to try to find their birth parents. In today's culture, adopted people tend to be portrayed as victims at best or serial killers at worst. (Or they're just presented as rather blah - like the adoptee in Mike Leigh's otherwise excellent film "Secrets and Lies," ....)
"I was completely fed up with what seemed to me to be a lack of empathy and understanding for what
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Elizabeth
Not only is it completely hillarious, but it actually deals with some serious issues of identity that adults who were adopted as children face. What makes this story different from most adoption stories is her comedic ability. This is actually a memoir that she uses in her standup comedy routines. i find her ability to do this psychologically healthy and beautiful. I laughed and cried and sometimes at the same time! Bravo to her and her expressive abilities. it's entertaining, and also therapeut ...more
Merry
Several things come to mind in regards to this book.....be careful what you wish for, appreciate the things and people in your life that you currently have, don't go looking for trouble, things are not always as they appear, and most of all be grateful and stop complaining. I will also add a favorite quote my mother always said "get over it". Life is so short, enjoy what you have instead of always wondering what you are missing.
Deb
At the age of 28, Pippa has decided to contact her birth parents. Adopted by a British couple, her "real" parents are American. Closer to her American relatives in looks and temperment, she thinks she has found the answers to all her problems. But nothing is that easy. A realistic and touching story, maybe because the author was also raised in England but born to Americans. I loved it.
Sull
Jul 22, 2014 Sull rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sull by: Yard sale find
Disappointing. This was readable as popcorn chick-lit, yet something more than a lighthearted romance novel is trying to swim down below the surface of this story of a charmingly disheveled redhead who feels out of step with her oh-so-proper adopted British family. Somehow I wish that deeper, stranger book had been written, and NOT as a novel.... But presumably that wouldn't have made much of a stir, nor made much money.

Some of the bones of this almost-novel were a stand-up comedy routine for th
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Jay
This is beautifully read by the author, Alison Larkin. I struggled with the characters as every person is an individual and cannot simply by typified by his or her culture/heritage/race. Is Pippa as she is because she is American, or because she is the product of two very outgoing individuals?
The book is too long, and there is too much trivial information that could be omitted. For example, several minutes of the audio-narration are spent on talking about getting lost in Canberra, Australia, wh
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Sarah
Fun read. An autobiographical novel about a woman born in the US and adopted by English parents. I believe this is the author's only novel - she is an actress and comedian. I enjoyed the novel, although I found the main character Pippa to be dense regarding the motives of others - but maybe I can chalk it up to youth.
The inside flap of the book describes it as "a fabulously funny, deeply poignant debut novel." I didn't find it funny or poignant. I did like it and found it interesting and an ent
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Jeri
Yes, I broke my own rule and read a few of the reviews for this book before I wrote this one. It's my opinion that Alison did not write a chic-lit book. I intensely liked this book, which is an in-depth manifesto concerning parenting. If you're familiar with the author's blog you will note that she has personal experience with the issues of adoption, searching, re-uniting, reuniting issues, uncoupling, etc.. The fact that there are hysterically funny comments every few pages stems from her backg ...more
Joyce Pavao
Fabulous and Funny. Insightful and Uproarious. Real and Imaginary. A great read for anyone but even better if you are adopted or connected to adoption.
Lucy
the humor and sweetness of this book really touched me. I just adored Pippa and this authors debut novel!
Beth
Our bookclub read this some years ago. A great write and a great read
Lily Jervis
I really felt at home inside this book. I loved the characters and the voice of the book, and I loved the premise. I am a British-born Canadian and I have felt some of the same feelings of not belonging to my country as Pipp did, and I was thrilled with the understanding that she came to at the end of the book. I loved her British parents, too. I felt they were very real, and that I know them (both from life and from movies). I couldn't relate to her American family, but I loved the way the stor ...more
Annalynn
Very disappointing book. Based on the title, I thought that I, as an Anglophile, would feel right at home reading about an English American. But it turns out this book is the story of Pippa, an English woman who was born to American parents and raised by her adoptive British mum and dad. The rest of the book is about her connecting with her American 'family' and how she does a good job of alienating her British family. Admittedly, I know next to nothing about how it feels to reunite with long-lo ...more
Stacy
I had the pleasure of meeting Alison Larkin when she came to present to our local community of adoptive parents. Her presentation was witty and hilarious and I immediately purchased a copy of this book. As an adoptee myself, I was especially able to relate to some of the feelings and experiences of Pippa. Many times over the course of reading this funny and sometimes emotional story, I thought to myself, "Wow! I am not the only person that feels that way!" or "I had never thought of it like that ...more
Pam Rivera
Intellectually stimulating - no. Quirky and fun - absolutely.

Pippa is a 28 yr.old British woman who doesn't feel like she belongs in her family, her country, her life. Knowing she's adopted, she contacts the agency in an effort to find her birth parents. When she does, she finds the parents she's been dreaming of, or has she? Meeting Billie and Walt has certainly answered some questions as to who she looks like, who she acts like, and why she thinks like she does but are these narcissistic, cow
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Lynne
The British author writes a novel loosly based on her search for her birthparents who are Americans. She writes eloquently and truthfully about the main character's loving her family but feeling as though she "doesn't fit in". As she meets her birthmother and birthfather, she sees traits of herself and feels as though she fits more into their separate lives than that of her adopted family. However, over time she better understands the reasons for her placement and comes to terms with how her bir ...more
Cheryl
The English American is comedian author, Alison Larkin’s memoir. Mrs. Larkin shares her story about living with her adopted parents in England and finding and connecting with her birth mother in America. Alison’s adopted parents told her at a young age that she was adopted so it was no surprise to Alison. Though Alison loved her parents very much, she was still curious about where she came from and who her birth parents were.

Alison had both intelligence and an artistic side. Alison learns from
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Sara
I picked up this book because I wanted to read about a young woman experiencing the contrast between England and America.

The main character, Pippa, whose American parents gave her up at birth, was adopted by English parents. She doesn't always fit in with her well-mannered English family, and when she's in her late 20s, she travels to America to meet her over-the-top birth parents. The results are by turns funny and sad, as Pippa learns to accept herself and her situation without caving in to t
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Alison Larkin was adopted at birth in the US by British parents and raised in Washington DC, England and Africa. After graduating from the University of London and the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, she wrote plays and became a regular on the British stage. Then she moved to America and became a successful stand-up comic and ubiquitous voice artist who has appeared on Broadway. Her intern ...more
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“I, on the other hand, interrupt people because my thoughts fly out of my mouth. My handbag's full of rubbish. And I want to do something that matters with my life. Right now I'd like to write plays, sing in musicals, and/or rid the world of poverty, violence, cruelty, and right-wing conservative politics.” 11 likes
“Longevity-and sanity. Eccentric old ladies on Harleys I can deal with.” 9 likes
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