Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “American Girls” as Want to Read:
American Girls
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

American Girls

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  2,801 ratings  ·  562 reviews
She was looking for a place to land.

Anna is a fifteen-year-old girl slouching toward adulthood, and she's had it with her life at home. So Anna "borrows" her stepmom's credit card and runs away to Los Angeles, where her half-sister takes her in. But LA isn't quite the glamorous escape Anna had imagined.

As Anna spends her days on TV and movie sets, she engrosses herself in
Hardcover, 293 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by Flatiron Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about American Girls, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
paris That quote is in the book (as sarcasm) and that's about as crude as the story gets. It does contain mature topics but grade 8 and up seems about right…moreThat quote is in the book (as sarcasm) and that's about as crude as the story gets. It does contain mature topics but grade 8 and up seems about right. It definitely has enough literary merit,.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,801 ratings  ·  562 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of American Girls
Emily May
Apr 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
And just for a second, maybe because it was California and you could understand how truly vomit-worthy fame could be only when you were right up next to it, I almost, kind of, understood what it might have been like to be a Manson girl.

I love it when a well-written, thought-provoking, completely different YA Contemporary comes along. And My Favourite Manson Girl was a refreshing, honest spin on the bildungsroman, set under the dreamy, wonderful, ugly Los Angeles sun.

These kind of books are a
Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies
Alison Umminger writes about girls, sex, violence, and which people society deems worthy of caring about, which ones it doesn't, in a way not often seen in YA fiction.
For once, a book's blurb is actually worthy of its contents.

This book was surprisingly complex and enjoyable. Yes, I am a skeptic, but for good reason. I've largely stopped reading YA lately, but the premise of this one sounds weird enough, and the setting- Los Angeles- close to home enough to turn my eye.

Being the jaded Southe
Wendy Darling
Here's the backstory: I had the chance to request this book twice, I chose not to, but it ended up getting sent to me anyway. And I'm so glad it did! It's so different from what I expected.

I tend to avoid glitzy stories about Hollywood like the plague; I live in LA and I worked in film for many years, so I'm thoroughly uninterested in what most people's idea of this town is like (usually gathered from TV or quick vacations or sexed-up beach reads). But this story isn't anything like that--it's
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
A YA contemporary about a fifteen year old girl who runs away to LA, soon getting lost in a research project involving the Manson girls, but she doesn’t fail to find the parallels between the two. This is a coming of age novel told in an original, thought-provoking way.

Anna decides to run away to LA after making some pretty big mistakes back home. Her older sister Delia is barely making it by as an actress there. Regardless spending the summer on film sets, hanging with low-level celebrities, an
Kate (GirlReading)
Mar 04, 2017 rated it did not like it
*original review posted on my blog *

I think American Girls/My Favourite Manson Girl is possibly the first book that I have felt as though I’ve read a totally different book compared to the large majority of reviews. I don’t think I’ve read a single negative review for this book and yet somehow I just can’t connect the raving reviews, to the pages I read myself? It’s safe to say, I didn’t love this. I had really hoped that I was going to. I should have lov
May 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing

Hello, perfect book.

Guys, I'm already dying inside because I don't know how I can possible put my adoration for this book into words. It's a YA contemporary that isn't focused on romance... aka something I practically NEED if I'm going to enjoy it. There's hardly even a plot, imo... but it was addictive, realistic, and so honest.

On paper, everything about this book should be a clear no from me. But I loved it anyway.

I a
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing





Yeah, I guess you could say I found this book funny *has a flashback to all my statuses of me laughing* okay, hilarious is probably the word.

I don't know what I could say about American Girls that hasn't already been perfectly said by many other reviewers. That it's completely original? Unlike every other formulaic, pseudo-teen book out there? Be
May 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, 3, starred-2016, 2016
A pleasant surprise.

The plot is fresh and unlike anything I've read in YA.

I wasn't that wild about the Hollywood plot like until I opened the book. The story is exactly the way it is described in the summary - traipsing around movie and TV sets, rubbing elbows with celebrities, researching Manson girls. And yet it all adds up to a very personal and intelligent story about being a young girl and doing stupid and sometimes unforgivable things for no good reason.
Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Things at home haven’t been the same since Annas mom left her father, for another woman no less. With a new step mom and baby in the family, Anna gets the feeling she’s more of a tolerated nuisance then beloved member of the family. So when Anna decides to “borrow” her stepmom’s credit card to score a plane ticket to glamorous LA to visit her sister Delia, it’s no surprise that they seem to be more concerned about the money then her. She’s to stay for the summer, work to repay her debt and come ...more
Sarah Elizabeth
(Source: I received a finished paperback copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks Little Brown Book Group UK.)

This was a YA contemporary story about a girl visiting her sister in LA for the summer.

Anne was a bit of an annoying character really, although I did feel a bit sorry for her the way her mother treated her. I’d personally have been a bit hacked off though if my daughter stole my wife’s credit card and flew across the country to LA using it.

The storyline in this was ab
Jul 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
Thank you to Little, Brown Book Group UK & Alison Umminger for my copy of the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A coming of age novel that wasn't the best read for me to be honest 2.5 stars. I was always wondering where it was going and why which started to bore me.

Anna has taken flight from home as things are not easy at the moment, with a mother going through a midlife crisis and a father with a new fiance she starts feeling unwanted and detached. she steals her mother's lesbian partners cr
monica kim
Mar 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Thanks Flatiron for sending me a copy of this book in advance to review!

I'm still processing everything, but I can say that I adored this book. This is not the kind of book that leaves you feeling good or satisfied at the end. These characters aren't ones who will give you feels or make you fall in love with them. The story dives into the idea of the quiet emotional cruelty often expressed between people who love each other. It's about being lost and sad and broken. It's about bad decisions and
Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries)
...No. I gave it fifty pages. Here are quotes from my ARC that illustrate my decision:
I found [Leslie Van Houten] by accident, reading an article in the waiting room of the lady-parts doctor my mom was going to when she was trying to get pregnant with my brother. (ARC, p. 1)

Lady-parts doctor. The prologue this comes from is written as though Anna is older now and is reminiscing on the moment. If so, surely she can use the proper title (OBGYN, fertility doctor, or something else that's correct).
"American Girls" by Alison Umminger is an edgy and entertaining YA novel. I really enjoyed the premise and the protagonist, Anna, even though she makes questionable choices. Anna is a 15 year-old "troublemaker" who runs away from home to visit her self-centered/aspiring actress sister in Los Angeles. Anna is more of a lost soul than anything. Her mom is a nightmare (emotionally immature). It's not a big surprise why Anna acts out in weird and self-destructive ways. I thought the character develo ...more
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell
Jul 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommended to Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ by: destini
Shelves: ya-ya-land, netgalley

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

AMERICAN GIRLS was a quirky, interesting read. It's about a girl named Anna who has a massively dysfunctional family. Her mother had a midlife crisis after she came out as a lesbian, only to have yet another inseminated child. Her father is married to a woman half his age. And her sister, Delia, is off in LA somewhere, making a tenuous living as a bit actress.

After a high school prank goes terribly wrong, Anna decides she can't take anym
Jen Ryland
An interesting, thought-provoking book that's not really for those readers who need a strong plotline.

Anna is fifteen, angry at her mother and probably feeling a little displaced (her mom is expecting a new baby) steals her mom's girlfriend's credit card number and buys herself a ticket to LA to stay with her older sister, Delia. Delia, in turn, is a struggling actress who is sleeping with Roger, her creepy, egotistical director behind her boyfriend's back.

As a way to pay back the money she "bor
Alisi ☆ wants to read too many books ☆
Okay, so I was going to give this two stars but the ending really killed it for me. By really, I mean it dug up the rotting corpse of dead hopes I had about this book being good and lit them on fire. I'm so angry with the ending. I'm also angry that it nose dived so fast.

The first half or so was really interesting and good. I was happily chugging along and then...

It's about this girl who has the shittiest people in her life. She gets fed up, steals the credit care from her mothers' wife, and fle
Jeff Zentner
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in parallel with Emma Cline's THE GIRLS and it provided a masterful one-two punch.

AMERICAN GIRLS is an extraordinary book that takes on difficult issues of American girldom in an unflinching way, and with empathy and heart to spare. It shines a light on parts of the American experience we often overlook. It's one of those books that's so rich, complex, emotionally nuanced, wise, and layered, if you're anything like me, you're going to be thinking about it for a long time. It has
Jun 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: hate-read
What a great idea for a novel. I am a huge fan of Helter Skelter and have been obsessed with the Manson murders since I was a teen, so I saw so much promise in investigating a teen girl finding her way through the scope of this fascinating tragedy.

But in the end, this book just proved why YA can be bad and not suitable for adults in search of good writing. The characters were despicable and the writing was poor. Anna tells you, in uninspired teen talk, everything she is thinking.

It felt like my
Some things in this book worked really well -- Anna's voice is good, as is the emotional arc she has in figuring out that life isn't always better in a place that's not your home, the realistic pull-and-tug of her family life and struggles with her mom and dad and Lynette. But a lot of other stuff in this book didn't work well -- the Manson girls thread was pretty weak and the tie-in to what Anna did to Paige at school felt like a real stretch. It was actually the author's note that explained it ...more
Sep 01, 2015 added it
Shelves: 2016-releases
I read this is one sitting and when it was done, I just wanted more. This is such an interesting and nuanced look at different darkness in teenage American girldom than we've been seeing in YA - different kinds of emotional abuse; complicated relationships between all sorts of familial relationships, the dark side of Hollywood and celebrity, the lack of sympathy and humanization we have for girls we deem to be in stronger positions, and the all-important question of who's worthy/capable of redem ...more
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, contemp
are we absolutely certain that alison umminger didn't just steal the diary of a deeply cynical 15 year old girl? have we verified that it is not the case? *shakes head* give this book all the awards. seriously.

a book about girlhood + the problem with pop culture + the american dream in a dark, sometimes depressing but still laugh-out-loud hilarious hollywood setting. oh, and the manson girls. that too.
If you crossed Mean Girls with The Lord of the Flies and weaponized all of them, then you prett
Sian Lile-Pastore
Loved this - really readable and page turning and smart and interesting too. May seem like another Manson family book like all the others, but it's more like an examination on the murders seen from the point of view of a fifteen year old in present day. It's really well done - the Manson murders are more of a backdrop to the story - which is actually a coming of age story about a girl running away to LA for the summer. Loved too how it penetrates any glitz and glamour (but not in a cheesy way) a ...more
Apr 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-to-review
(I received a copy from Netgalley, In exchange for an honest review.)

Actual rating - 2.75

This wasn't a great read for me unfortunately. It started out quite slow, and got worse as it progressed. It dragged quite badly because of it, and I felt bored for a lot of it.

Overall, Not a very enjoyable read for me.
I really liked the LA setting - I don't think I've read anything set on the West Coast. Also, it mostly takes place on film sets, so there's a lot that makes this story original. I really enjoyed the complexity of the main character and how she dealt with her hypocrisies, but the whole Manson murders element did nothing for me, and I don't actually think it added anything special. ...more
Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen)
I had a class with Dr. Umminger two years ago! I had no idea she'd published a book, and now I'm super excited to read it! ...more

I could've sworn I reviewed this already. Womp.

Anna's life is a hot mess. Her sister, Delia, has ditched the family to pursue a career as a failing actress in LA. Her mother is a newly-minted lesbian with a baby boy named Birch. As in, tree bark and/or the ever-unappreciated Hoenn Pokémon professor. Anna refuses to tolerate any of them any longer, so she steals a credit card and hightails it to LA to find her sister, who takes her in, albeit hesitantly. Shortly after she moves in with Delia
Tiff at Mostly YA Lit
Review originally posted on Mostly YA Lit:

A strange and wonderfully written book that doesn’t really feel like a YA, but more like an adult book with YA characters (if that exists). American Girls is heavy on theme, low on plot, and uniquely fascinating, tying together the Manson girls, a coming of age story, the seediness and glamour of LA, and a family story. I’m a little floored by this book, and if I hadn’t been in a huge reading slump while reading it, this may well have been a 4.5 to 5 sta
Ashley Blake
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is titled very appropriately. I'm sort of in awe of Umminger's ability to weave in so many different types of lives, stories, and experiences and show the reader a portrait of...American Girls. From the Manson Girls to Anna, the books cynical and lonely 15 year-old MC, to her actress sister, the women in this book shine--sometimes very darkly--revealing parts of American culture and emotional violence that we so often ignore. This book is bittersweet and funny and honest. Anna is fully ...more
Jun 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book follows Anna, who after deciding she's had enough of mundane life, steals a credit card and books herself a ticket to Los Angeles. During her summer in Hollywood, she moves in with her actress sister and soon gets offered the role of researching the Manson girls for money.

I went into this book without high expectations, what drew me to it was the fact that we had a teenage protagonist researching the once teenage Manson girls. I must point out early on that this book doesn't really ha
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Like Home
  • X
  • Delicate Monsters
  • The Cormorant
  • The Drover’s Wives
  • We Don't Know What We're Doing
  • Retribution Rails (Vengeance Road, #2)
  • The Earth
  • The Butchers EXPORT
  • Can't Stand Up For Falling Down: Rock'n'Roll War Stories
  • Paradise Block
  • Skins (Skins, #1)
  • (R)evolution: The Autobiography
  • The Follower
  • Runaway (Airhead, #3)
  • The Voice in My Ear
  • Five Total Strangers
  • The Shape of Darkness
See similar books…
See top shelves…
ALISON UMMINGER grew up in Arlington, Virginia, and as an undergraduate was the fourth woman to be elected president of The Harvard Lampoon. Today, she is a professor of English at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, Georgia, where she lives with her family. American Girls is her first novel.

News & Interviews

  Some people love books. Some people fall in love. And some people love books about falling in love. Every month our team sorts through...
45 likes · 4 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“For someone who did a lot of yoga and had a peace sign tramp stamp on her lower back, she sure could be a bitch.” 6 likes
“Never underestimate the power of youth - not in Los Angeles, at any rate. You can never be too young or too dumb.” 3 likes
More quotes…