Novel: Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann
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 few years of Eveline Auerbach’s life. Dictated through Eveline’s expressive voice we are led believe that she is battling some form of anorexia amongst a myriad of other things that plague the lives of young adults. We follow Eveline through the ups and downs that adulthood brings, especially in Eveline’s case. From a tumultuous and volatile relationship with men. It becomes evident that Eveline is quite attached to the men in her life going from one man to another.
As we begin the novel she is attached to Jack who is truly infatuated and in love with Eveline, while showing disenchantment with authority depicted during this time. Describing their relationship she said: “For purposes unknown I had been entrusted with the care of his soul, and so it was the vile type of treason for me to have enriched his self-loathing”. Quickly she evolves and falls for Harrison Rourke, their relationship is more than tumultuous – it is destructive and self- abusive- at times even obsessive. Ending the manipulative relationship between Mark and her, not only is the relationship physically abusive but depressive. Eveline is quickly and inexplicably in love with almost every man in her life. Yet as women we might be able to identify with each of Eveline’s relationships. From the extremely volatile to obsessive to abusive we are quickly confronted with the possibility.
At times the literature can be reminiscent of the Twilight novels that dominate teenage literary culture. Evocative of the purely self-destructive manner in which Eveline speaks she says, “When people say time heals, they are wrong. Time simply extinguishes hope.” Eveline Auerbach and Bella Swan certainly have a lot in common ranging from their obsessive nature in men to their self-destructive attitudes. Yet Eveline is so much more than Bella she is prophetic, bratty, dismissive, wise, intelligent, self-deprecating, intelligent, and poetic. Her worldview is suggestive of many disgruntled and disenfranchised youth that was very vociferous during this time period. When considering the opportunity the novel presents it becomes evident that we are educated about so much more then the monotonous life of a young adult.
When considering this new book it was initially not hard for me to connect with yet the language is somewhat verbose and at times evasive. The reader does not fully see the whole picture until the end of the novel. Do not be put off by the evasive language and if you can power through because this novel is certainly worth your time and is profoundly different from anything else of this specific genre. As a reader it becomes possible for us to connect with the piece but also each character you yearn for them simply because you want to belong in their unique group and somehow be the support for Eveline. If I were to suggest that you read one grandiose novel this year I certainly and wholeheartedly support this novel. Specifically for the way it makes you grieve, grow, love, and flourish.
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