Recent feedback from readers
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“Never in my life have I felt the urge to tell an author how much I loved a book until now. I found myself reading and re-reading passages wishing I had my highlighter so that I could remember them. I absolutely LOVE the beautiful way you write. The paragraph where you wrote about pain getting heavy when it's carried far from it's source just stopped me in my tracks and had me putting the book down to think. Very few books have done that for me in my life as an avid reader. And at the funeral where the priest talks about the rose.....just beautiful. Please keep writing books, I will read them all! I can imagine that you are going to get a lot more exposure for this book as more and more people read it. I've already told all of my friends to read it. Mine was a library copy (which I waited weeks for on the waiting list) and I'm going to order my own and read it again. With a highlighter this time. I related to this book so much, I just can't say enough good things about it. I found myself just sitting on my porch swing lost in it, not wanting it to end. I even got emotional reading Jack's letter to Evie at the end and that has really never happened to me with a book. If some people don't get it, it's because it’s dark and thought provoking and most people don't want to think. Not REALLY think. This book made me think. A lot. Thank you for that.”
“Anthropology of an American Girl is comprised of the endings and beginnings and false starts that make up a journey. It is a young woman's transition to adulthood as she experiences love, loss, and the journey of becoming aware of the possibilities. Why did it resonate with me so strongly? Perhaps because I read it at a vulnerable point in my life. I was at a crossroads, primed and ready to be swept away by something beautiful. However, it goes beyond that. It is the writing itself. I believe that great writing is the kind of writing that compels you to pause at various points to give respect to an exquisite sentence, clever wordplay, or unexpected insight. This novel is the epitome of this kind of writing. The reader becomes invested in the complex characters as the story develops. It is impossible to read the novel and not identify with Eveline or fall in love with Rourke or loathe Mark or mourn Maman. The book spoke to me in a way that others have not. It is a book sto be savored. Yes, it is long; but, thank Heaven. The length does justice to Eveline—who she was and who she ultimately becomes. I have carried this novel from Boston to London to San Francisco to Chicago. It will continue with me on my journey forward. It is a work that reminds me of the beauty of life, the reward in risks, and the importance of the journey.”
“This book is life-changing. I haven't stopped thinking about it since I finished, over two weeks ago. Your writing style is beautiful and captured the essence of what I visualize to be the very crux of relational passion. I have recommended this book to everyone I know—for hopes that it will change their perspective on what is really important in life. Everybody needs a Harrison.”
“For one, I am a guy, second I am 63, and thirdly, I am in utter awe of your uncanny ability to make observations about life that ring totally true and which so few people have either had the intelligence or the skill or the courage to express. I read a review of the the book in Entertainment Weekly and decided I needed to read it. Having just finished "On Borrowed Wings," I was thinking that another "chick" book would be in order.
Well, on the surface yours might seem like a "chick" book, but deep down, it makes "Catcher in the Rye" seem like something a junior high student might pen. To say that your work is brilliant is an understatement. Two of my favorite authors are Philip Roth and John Updike, each of whom have an ability to paint their canvasses with words. I am, however, quite happy to report, that your skill in painting would make Michelangelo proud. If the last half of the book is only half as good as the first part, it will still put you and your work at the top of my all time favorites. Now I need to buy the book (the one I am reading is from the local library) so I can mark all of the wondrous little tidbits of wisdom, yes wisdom, that you have so amazingly referenced. Thanks!”
“I found your book in Pasadena, California, at Vroman's Bookstore, the year it was published. I read the first few sentences and thought of Bret Easton Ellis, and bought the book because of it. I still like the hardcover design. I didn’t realize then that your novel was self-published. It was a pleasure to read, and I am a voracious reader. If you show up in Washington, D. C., probably at Politics & Prose, I would drive there to see you. D. C. is 250 miles from where I live. (I do not own a bookstore.) Have fun on your tour, and thank you for answering my email. And keep writing. I remember what Norman Mailer said at the New York Public Library on 27 June 2007: "What a divine punishment it is to write a novel."
“I just finished Anthropology on Kindle and feel orphaned, I want to know more! Will/Are you writing a sequel? I loved your descriptions of characters and beautiful turns of phrases, I had to write some of them down. I just generally really admired your anglosaxon feel for apt, short descriptions, and your in-depth knowledge of human characters and traits. I'd love to know more about the making of the book, and especially about what happened to Eveline as she grew up. Thanks for hours of reading pleasure.”
S.B., Como, Italy
“I'm sure this book is your child and it would be hard not to care about how it is received, however, in my humble opinion you have written an exquisite piece of literature. It's inspiring to hear that you've been piecing it together over time and that much of it is from high school journals, as I have an entire kitchen cupboard filled with journals and have often thought of doing something with them. They are so heart wrenching. Perhaps that is why what you have written rings so true particularly to women, and maybe especially to women who grew up in the 70s/80s like me. Personally, I adore a non-linear story line, they make you think harder/deeper. Thank you for writing possibly the BEST book I've ever read. I am floored by your mastery of language. I want more so much more.”
“I just finished your book, I literally could not put it down, you are an amazing writer; just had to tell you. Oh what I wouldn't give to feel that intense yearning of 18 again. Thank you for this book."
“How different is the 2003 version from the newer one? I can't imagine changing anything! I'm so happy for your book's re-release, but I feel oddly protective of it since it's long been one of my favorite books. I'm sure you must feel somewhat the same.”
“I'm super embarassed to say that I've had a first edition hardcover copy of your book since 2003 but just now got around to really reading it. I think the first time it was bit over my head.. I must say that I do love it and am kind of addicted :)”
“Just finished your book and am SO happy with the ending. I will definitely post a review on Amazon. I'm going to miss being with these characters.”
“I am a 22 year old first-year grad student. I finished my Bachelor's degree this past April and as a graduation gift, I received an iPad. I quickly downloaded the Kindle app., and as a suggestion from my mother, downloaded a book she'd thought I'd enjoy. I am sure you are familiar with the section on Amazon where it says "Customers also bought." Well after I finished the suggested book, the website showed me that other customers were buying AAG. I didn't even read the synopsis, I just downloaded it.
I haven't been able to put my iPad down since starting your book. "The Catcher in the Rye" has always been my favorite book...but your book just surpassed it about....an hour and a half ago - when I finished. Your writing and portrayal of the heroine is magnificent. As I read, I was really impressed with the rawness and truthfulness of her inner monologues. It was very touching. When I finished the book a little while ago, I quickly downloaded another suggested book on Amazon. I tried starting it but couldn’t stop thinking about your book...so I had to stop reading for the time being. I don't want my stories to run together!! So, tonight I will put my iPad down and go to sleep replaying the story over and over again.
I hope you know how much I appreciated this book. I have a nice life. A nice family, and a wonderful boyfriend and friends. I know not of the things that Eveline faced in your book but it was so incredible to view through the eyes of another. I do share the outlook of "simplicity" with Eveline, however, and your writing really made that evident to me. I truly hope this book is made into a movie, as I think it would be a big hit and another platform for your art of writing."
“Love that book, just finished it yesterday!”
“Lovely. Wonderful. I would reread passages and turn down pages to read again. Good stuff.”
“I believe this book will be one of the better books I will ever read. Writing like this does not come around often. I think in many areas the reader will be helped from it. Your take on everyday life is poetic. I will hand this over to my 22 year-old daughter next. Since in '78 I was 18 years old, an art student, growing up on Long Island, spending time out east, I am taken back to that time. The book resonates those years. Thank You Hilary, for a work of art!"
“This book is amazing! What is particularly fascinating is the depth into the psyche of Evie that is revealed, the minute gestures that I can so clearly picture and know so well. I have lived this life. I only wish this had been written 20 years ago and that I had read it. I am grateful to authors like Hilary who not only fascinate me but actually help me.”
“Evie Auerbach thinks and thinks and thinks in this debut novel by Hilary Thayer Hamann. She is the ultimate nazel gazer and it works! This beautiful coming of age story, while long (600 pages) and mostly internal, does not drag. That said, I found myself rationing it out, not wanting to come to the end too soon. Evie is entering adulthood in the late 70's/early 80's and speaking as someone who did the same, it really rang true. So did Evie's obsession with herself and her complete obsession with a man. Yes, she is a bit of a drama queen about it all, but really, who wasn't at that age? You are flush with all the sexual power, but confused as to what to do with it. I usually am scrupulous about avoiding any spoilers, but I will say that there is a sexual assault relatively early on in the book. Evie's emotional reaction to it (or seeming lack thereof) to me is the reason for everything in the book. Working at a rape crisis center, I see this all the time, and have never had it captured so perfectly in a book. This is one of those I will read again. The language was both interesting and beautiful."
“At the time I first read this book about four or five years ago, I remember thinking, "Why isn't this on Oprah's book List?" The story has all the markings of a deeply beloved classic along with the writing chops to match. I was lifted away from my every day life, transformed into Evie living on the east coast just like I did in high school, with the same slick boys in sports cars, the weird artsy friends and the hopelessly ethereal, brilliant, and tragically lost first boyfriend (Jack). I had lived this story, many of us have lived this story. What is so singular for me about this book is the author's ability to capture the unspoken. To describe the intense almost primal exchange between Evie and Rourke when they first meet. The connection between you and somebody that you know is yours, before the two of you have ever spoken. That's what would keep me up at night, dreaming of Evie and Rourke, and gave me the will to look for my own relationship, just like theirs.”
“I am half-way through this book. I am absolutely in love with it. It is so rare to find a book that is both inspiring and beautifully written. The author is a master of metaphor. I always find myself copying down sentences, sometimes entire paragraphs. I almost don't want to read it too fast so it won't end so soon. A one liner description of this book is: "What "Catcher in the Rye" did for youths..."Anthropology" does for women."
“You may or may not be happy to know I picked "Anthropology of an American Girl" off the front table of Barnes and Noble labeled "Beach Read." Tempted by the aesthetically pleasing hard cover, the relatable title, and the B&N sign, I thought I'd give it a try. Although I must say, I think that "Beach Read" sign was false advertising. I did take it to Martha's Vineyard on a family vacation, but I was mostly holed up in my bedroom the entire time devouring your book. I read it in 2 days and I wanted to talk about it for at least triple that time.
I was so surprised by the fullness of Eveline as a character. So often I read thin depictions of young women--women who are funny, caring, wistful and hopeful. Of course as a reader I like to identify with those qualities and I think I surely do, but I mourn for the many other sides of women that get lost in favor of trivial depictions of silly young girls. I may be the only young person in America to read "Catcher in the Rye" and find it had no lasting effect on me. In fact, I almost didn't buy "Anthropology" because of the comparisons to CITR. But what I discovered is this--Holden is no Eveline.
For me, the best part about your book is that though I exist decades later, I am feeling what you wrote Eveline to be feeling. As a 23 year-old attempting to navigate this new adult life, I can certainly relate with her confusion and often even her solipsism. If I couldn't put my feelings into words before, I certainly can now. Your book forced me to confront aspects of my being that I usually overlook. Especially at this time in my life, I of course am self-involved, contemplative, and lost, and I will forever be grateful to you for having written such a complex and REAL aspect of a woman's character and struggle. I imagine on a table filled with Emily Giffin and Cecily Von Ziegesar it would be risky to write an Eveline, but I think you and she blow every other woman off that table.
I will send good vibes to the universe for you and will continue to tell every one of my friends about your soul shaking book. We've even discussed starting a book club with the sole purpose of making our friends read "Anthropology of an American Girl"! I wish you all the success in the world because from what I can tell, you deserve it!"
“Just finished "Anthropology of An American Girl"....wow! If you girls are looking for an incredible, discussion-inspiring book think about this one. A little slow to begin with but stick with it and I promise you'll love it!"
“A dangerous book for me, because I can't read long without crying. Most of all, for Jack. But also with relief that a writer has finally given voice to the complex inner life of the American girl—and that, for once, her experience is privileged and validated. How I wish she had made different choices--but that is why this is an anthropology.”
“ "Anthropology of an American Girl" is an amazing book that is meant to be read slowly and savored. It's one of the most well-written books I've ever read—every word was so carefully chosen that each sentence is like a line of poetry. Don't be intimidated, though—it's totally readable and accessible. It's just the type of book that should be read thoroughly to truly be enjoyed and appreciated. Even the book itself is exquisite—it's rare to see a book that was so thoughtfully created with the essence of the novel in mind. It's really something to save and to treasure. The story itself is beautiful as well—it's written in the first person so that by the end of the novel, you feel like you really know Eveline (the main character), whose life we follow from the end of high school through the end of college. The author is excellent at developing characters: Eveline is complex, flawed, and real, as are the other characters whose lives we follow through Eveline. All in all, highly recommended for someone looking for something different.”
“I just posted my review of your WONDERFUL book on Amazon. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed reading this one. I read a lot of books, and compared to my other "brick" read of the summer ("The Passage," a very well written novel also), this one went by much too quickly! I never read a lot (or any) reviews until I am done with the novel, but if you read any online blogs, or are involved in the book world in any way, it would be hard to ignore the buzz about this one. I am wondering, though, now that I've read some of the other Amazon reviews, how different is this one from your original version of the novel? And is there any way I can still get a copy of that one—is it available anywhere—I'd love to read your raw, "pre-edited" version. I guess maybe through Amazon? Or are their any copies out there at all, I wonder? I felt like I was Eveline—I had so much in common with her. I assume she is a version of yourself. Brava, and please, keep writing! I can't wait for your next novel.”
“As the father of an 18 year-old who is moving to Manhattan for college in August, I read "Anthropology of an American Girl" with great pleasure (as a reader) but with a healthy dose of trepidation (as a father). The memorial for Jack was among the most moving scenes I recall reading in a long, long time. I really loved the book, and I am jealous of the people who still can read it for the first time.”
“I took as long as possible to read what is now my favorite book. Thank you Hilary Thayer Hamann.”
“Not much I can add to what's already been said, but I wanted to thank you for writing your book and introducing me to Eveline. I'll have you know you have ruined me for the rest of the summer reading I was planning on doing ;) ...I keep picking up the other books in my ever-growing "to read" pile & I just can't get into any of them because your characters are still in my head.
“Hilary, I finished—so reluctantly—American Girl last night. I'd had to put it aside for a two week trip to Ecuador, which was a painful thing to do since i had perhaps 40 pages left to read. And oh, what a beautiful time I had curling up in bed once I was back home again with those last pages... Honestly, I feel a little like one of those people who carries a bible around with them, underlining sentence after sentence. I finally gave up with that, since I found myself wanting to underline entire pages. What an incredible book this is—a keeper that I'll pull out to read all over again. I'm haunted.”
I just wanted to tell you how I'm loving your book.....and I still haven't finished to read it! I hope it won't finish so soon!:)
My compliments for you also from Italy. Have a nice day!"
“I just finished Anthropology and thought it was a tremendous novel. Your writing style was particularly engaging for me and the imagery was phenomenal. Being a music obsessive, I thoroughly enjoyed the periodic song and artist references. And having a father born and raised in Point Pleasant, I loved the Jenkinson's jaunt. I rode the beach train at night to the inlet and back with my aunt ad nauseum when I was young. In fact, she and I were just talking about it two weeks ago when we were down at the beach in Avalon. Thank you for the good summer read...most of it was completed on the 11th street beach in Avalon. Best wishes in your future writing.”
“I finished Anthropology of an American Girl a couple days ago and felt compelled to drop you a note to tell you how much I enjoyed it. Eveline is, without a doubt, one of the best crafted characters I've had the joy of getting to know. The love she had for Rourke is one I won't forget. I look forward to more of your work in the future.”
“I just finished reading your novel and wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it. I was totally immersed in it. Each sentence had to be read to the fullest as your comparisons were brilliant! I grew up in the 70's and knew the songs, the dress, just the way things were then....so there were memories......as for emotions, they were so detailed; I should think everyone could relate. Eveline is a brave and strong character, observing things around herself, others, places that most would not.I loved reading Anthropology of an American Girl and will reread it. Thanks for writing it and I hope to read more from you in the future!”
“Just finished AAG and am at a loss for what on Earth I could begin to read next that could possibly fill the void. Not sure I can start it up again as it nearly tore my heart in half. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
“Your novel definitely one of the most poetic books I read this year hands down. I feel that the lead female character in your book mirrors the subtle existentialism of Albert Camus' The Stranger or The Fall more than the heavy-handed approach that Brett Easton Ellis takes. Ellis tends to create a deliberately artificial setting for his characters whereas your novel is able to create a wider range of settings that your characters engage in. Maybe more like Rachel Cusk? I vote your novel as the winner of the Orange Prize this year!”
“I just finished the book late last night/early this morning. I could barely put it down! Beautiful writing. I, too, am missing these characters already. I kept visualizing Rourke as a younger Jimmy Smits. Guess that's not too far off?”
“I started and finished your novel last week. I just began reading it again last night. Out of the hundreds of books I have read (and loved), this is the only one I've read twice in a row like this. I can't describe the way I loved it, except to say that I love it in a different way than I've loved any book ever. The characters made such an impression on me that they are with me even when i'm not reading. Thank you so much for deciding to publish this story. I assume it is very personal and close to your heart. Congratulations and well done.”
“Not much I can add to what's already been said, but I wanted to thank you for writing your book and introducing me to Eveline. I'll have you know you have ruined me for the rest of the summer reading I was planning on doing. I keep picking up the other books in my ever-growing "to read" pile, but can't get into any of them because your characters are still in my head.”
“Hilary, I left a comment on Anthropology of An American Girl's page, but wanted to say something here as well—your book. Oh, your book. Incredible. How powerful and proud you must feel!”
“I just finished this book, and I grew up on the Jersey Shore leaving when I was 17. This book resonated with me so incredibly. The Sun Also Rises is one of my favorites as well. I too want to know more about Eveline. I appreciate your writing so much. Thank you. Thank you.”
“I read the Montauk section again yesterday. My heart was actually breaking. And just finished the book for the second time. those last two sections had me crying at work. I just have to tell you how much I love Rob. I think he is such a brilliant, well-written character. I want to know that he exists in real life. I need to know that people like him exist. There's a place in my heart for Evie, Rourke, Jack, and Denny, of course, but I don't know...the second time around I was really struck by Rob. I don't know, I just felt the need to tell you this. I can't believe each character is so vivid and developed. You're amazing!!”
“I found your book in Pasadena, California, at Vroman's Bookstore, the year it was published. I read the first few sentences and thought of Bret Easton Ellis, and bought the book because of it. I still like the hardcover design. I didn’t realize then that your novel was self-published. It was a pleasure to read, and I am a voracious reader. If you show up in Washington, D. C., probably at Politics & Prose, I would drive there to see you. D. C. is 250 miles from where I live. Have fun on your tour, and keep writing. I remember what Norman Mailer said at the New York Public Library on 27 June 2007: ‘What a divine punishment it is to write a novel.’ ”
“I’d read many glowing reviews about this book. But the size intimidated me because I’m such a slow reader. You really do need to take your time with this novel. The language is beautiful and the angst is truly an overpowering emotion running throughout—as in real-life at these ages. The character of Jack rang completely true with me and I found the writing about him to be the strongest and clearest. This author is able to take emotions and put them into words and then the words become pictures in your mind. The entire book plays like a film as you read. You envision everything...even to its smallest detail.”
“Ok so I'm only half way through this book just now, however if this doesn't make it into the Top 100 reads in the next 12 months I'll give up chocolate for a whole week. At 600 pages you might have to give up telly for a time!”
“Almost done reading your book....I love it! It is like a much more complex and flavorful girl version of Catcher in the Rye. I
cannot wait to see what you write next. Your character development is outstanding and refreshing. It is like seeing through a woman's eyes in a way that I have never before seen, every man should read this to be enlightened a bit.”
“Listening to Anthropology of an American Girl read by Rebecca Lowman. Your writing is gorgeous and Rebecca's voice brings the characters to life. If you're ever out west, I'd love to set up a reading (or two).”
“I loved Anthropology of an American Girl! I may be imagining this, but it seemed to have a lot in common with some of Ayn Rand's work, especially her notion of romantic love. Any chance she was an inspiration?”
“Still thinking about Eveline....months after listening to your book.”
“I just finished Anthropology of an American Girl, and all I can say is wow! Everything about the book was amazing. The language. The emotion. All of it. I will never forget this read. There are very few you can say that about in life. Evie did what I felt was true justice to love and loss. No fairy tale spin. Just raw pain. anguish. Emptiness. I know that feeling. Thank you for bringing it to life page after page.”