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Anthropology of an American Girl

3.30  ·  Rating details ·  4,126 ratings  ·  733 reviews
A moving depiction of the transformative power of first love, Hamann's first novel follows Eveline Auerbach from her high school years in East Hampton, New York, in the 1970s through her early adulthood in the moneyed, high-pressured Manhattan of the 1980s.

Self-published in 2003, Hilary Thayer Hamann’s Anthropology of an American Girl touched a nerve among readers, who ide
Hardcover, 606 pages
Published May 25th 2010 by Spiegel & Grau (first published September 2003)
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 ·  4,126 ratings  ·  733 reviews

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Jun 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Nov 30, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: own-it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 17, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
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
Jul 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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, as I felt addicted to the characters and their world. It took me longer to read than it should've as I ne ...more
Feb 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Rachael Hewison
Jun 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: american-fiction
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
Jul 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 16, 2010 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
Apr 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Emma Bolden
Jan 24, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Emily Kobler
Dec 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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
May 06, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: overrated, fiction
“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
Mar 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Bonnie G.
May 05, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads, 2010
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 06, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 18, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Angela Juline
Jun 03, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Torture! I knew I should have stayed away from this book...25 hours of my life I will not get back (audio). Incredibly surprising this book got published by a first time author. It was literally painful...not the story but the fact that it NEVER seemed to end. I wanted to scream out of frustration so many times, because I thought for sure there is no way she can continue to belabor the same point. The author indulged herself too much...where was the editing??? Actually, I do think the story was ...more
Reading Teen
Apr 19, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Rachel Carr
Nov 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
To read more reviews check out Reading Rendezvous at:

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
Sara Strand
Jul 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a lovely, deep and involving first novel, telling of Evie Auerbach, a young woman living on the East Coast of America in the late 1970’s and the 1980’s, detailing her high school and college days as she learns about life and love. Narrated in the first person by Evie, we are allowed into her innermost thoughts and feelings about her friends, family, fellow schoolmates, and partners, as she shares her philosophies on her varied experiences in life, and we gain insights into what her world ...more
May 31, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Wow. Maybe the most overwritten book I've ever read. It's like a striving college sophomore took some speed and wrote for four days straight and thought they were super awesome. I am baffled by ANY positive reviews of this book. It was such a slog through total nonsense. Every paragraph had to have like 17 descriptive words or four metaphors to the point that you couldn't even make sense of what you were reading. Just truly some of the dumbest writing I've ever read. I keep comparing it to Under ...more
Aug 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I do not know where to begin a review of this book without gushing about how much I truly loved it. I will start by saying that the feelings this book gave me are very similar to the feelings I had while reading Mary Karr's Cherry-- Truly and utterly rapt and attentive, my heart breaking, and at the same time filling with the beauty of the language and the story.

So to put it bluntly, this book was truly beautiful. From the minute I began reading, Eveline (named after James Joyce's short story)
Oct 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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