Friday, July 9, 2010

Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann

Reviewed by Ingrid
Published: 2010

It's About: This novel is an anthropological "study" of one Eveline Auerbach, a young female coming of age in New York in the early 80s. We witness her evolve intellectually and emotionally as we first see her brooding in high school classrooms, to brooding on New Jersey beaches, to brooding in fancy Manhattan apartments.

I thought: This book was a disappointment. I wanted to like it, I really did ... but this book turned out to be like a novel version of the OC or Gossip Girl trying to be literary. Hamann goes wild with the metaphors and philosophical musings, and frankly, it's exhausting. Who knew that adjusting the underwire of your bra could be so philosophical? But oh, it can: "I adjusted the underwire of my bra beneath my left breast because I did not like to feel my heart against it, the way the blurps felt so miniature, the was the organ strived but failed to be timely." I'm sorry, but that is really, really pushing it. And, not to mention the constant cliché literary moments, like fireworks outside the first time Eveline has sex, or when she nurses a random baby bird back to health symbolizing her hurt over a lost love, and on, and on.
The characters were flat and predictable. The moments that could have been the most striking were the most melodramatic. This book was overwritten and tiresome.
In his review of this book, I believe Jeff O'Neal sums it up well: "Eveline seems so bored with her friends, her life, and herself that she struggles to imbue the trivial with poetic possibility. But these all turn out to be dead ends, and try as she might to see the world differently, she still cannot be moved by it." (via

Verdict: Throw this baby in the bin. Sadly.