Monday, June 6, 2011

The Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann

The Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann

According to the dictionary, Anthropology means: The scientific study of the origin, the behavior, and the physical, social, and cultural development of humans.  According to Hamann, the definition of an American Girl, goes by the name of Eveline.  Eveline is artistic, beautiful, fragile, unsure of herself and her place in the world.   We meet Eveline, the summer before her senior year of high school and follow through early adulthood.  The novel takes place in the 1970's through the 1980s.

Eveline is possessed by a deep love for a man who has control of her soul. She is utterly deprived when they are apart and complete when they are together, yet their relationship is not perfect.  This is a coming of age story of a girl entering womanhood and struggling to survive with inequality.  Eveline is awakening, sexually, intellectually, physically, socially etc.  (refer to definition above).  She learns how to survive failed relationships and struggles through the heartbreaks that define all women.

Hamann is an excellent writer.  Her prose is lyrical, artistic, bold and it gives you the sense that you are reading a great book.  Hamann includes song lyrics of the time period in the book as well as noteworthy news headlines of the time.  As a child who grew up in the decades of the 70's and 80's, I could really relate to Eveline and of course I remember the songs and the news stories.

The library Journal compares this author to Henry James but I wouldn't as the books I have read by James don't fit for me.  I would compare this book to
The Awakening by Kate Chopin, while they are very different books, they both possess a woman's awakening and they would make a great discussion if paired together.  I would also compare this book to The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing.  Both compare in size (600 pages) and in main characters trying to find their way in a world not made for them.   

So what is your definition of a American Girl?

Has the definition changed over the decades?

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