—CHICAGO SUN TIMES by John Barron

“The book showcases all the nuance and character insight of the masters. But it also has a thrilling contemporary edge that seems to just about perfectly capture the ethos, angst and danger of a time close to our own.”
“Thayer’s greatest contribution…is her protagonist, Eveline Auerbach.”
“Evie is actually the descendant of literary forebears like Huck Finn, Holden Caulfield, Augie March and every other young, terribly smart, prototypical American who is “coming of age” inside the pages of a book.”
“The author is pitch perfect in rendering the times.”
 “It’s a time that’s post-postwar and pre-Internet, and it’s never seemed so intriguing.”
“Evie’s narrative voice, fueled by a vibrant, vivid descriptive sensibility and a thought process that’s unusually assured, really begins to take off.”
“It’s easy to get hooked by one of the most engaging, evolving voices in contemporary fiction.”
 “Thayer’s rendering of Evie’s love for Rourke exquisitely captures the lure, power and all-consuming heat of the emotion.”
“Thayer so fully imbues her characters with recognizable humanity that they stand up and demand to be heard. The novelist is also awfully good as a writer. There’s a wonderful literary rendering of something on nearly every page. Bad manners have never been so well described.”

Thoroughly modern manners. In the early part of the 20th Century, when Henry James and Edith Wharton were writing them, they were called “novels of manners.” A hundred years later, when a writer attempts the same the result is, inevitably, a novel of bad manners. Drinking, sex, divorce, dysfunctional parents, weird friends, selfishness masquerading as introspection, dope smoking. They’re all usually somewhere in the picture. Hey, that’s the age we live in. In the right hands, however, all those bad manners can be essential ingredients in a great story. That’s the case with Hilary Thayer Hamann and her debut novel Anthropology of an American Girl. The book showcases all the nuance and character insight of the masters. But it also has a thrilling contemporary edge that seems to just about perfectly capture the ethos, angst and danger of a time close to our own.
Originally self-published in 2003, American Girl blossomed into a cult hit with young adults, selling out its 5,000-copy press run. Now freshly edited and published by a major house, it will get the attention and readers it deserves.
Thayer’s story is set in Long Island as the ’70s are turning into the ’80s. Though never obtrusive, the author is pitch perfect in rendering the times, with constant references to pop culture, pop music (Blondie, the Cars, Bob Seger), distinctive clothes and pursuits.
Thayer’s greatest contribution, though, is her protagonist, Eveline Auerbach. When we first meet Evie, she’s close to finishing high school. But she’s much more than a suburban student. Evie is actually the descendant of literary forebears like Huck Finn, Holden Caulfield, Augie March and every other young, terribly smart, prototypical American who is “coming of age” inside the pages of a book.
In Evie’s case, she inhabits a world where families are breaking down, sexual mores are in transition and teens are more at the controls of their lives and aware of their emotions than ever before. The input from the culture is also louder than at any previous period. It’s a time that’s post-postwar and pre-Internet, and it’s never seemed so intriguing.
High school provides a fertile stage, as usual, for the drama. Evie inhabits a middle ground in the caste system there. Her mom is raising her, and she’s probing a fledgling relationship with a scruffy, outsider-ish but brilliant boyfriend.
Then, startlingly, Evie endures a rape —a gang rape, really, by classmates — in a bathroom at a party. She doesn’t report it (remember the times). Following that event, which occurs early in the book, Evie’s narrative voice, fueled by a vibrant, vivid descriptive sensibility and a thought process that’s unusually assured, really begins to take off. The reader locks onto her story as we see and feel her ideas and emotions and begin to fully understand her thinking and choices. It’s easy to get hooked by one of the most engaging, evolving voices in contemporary fiction.
The book charts Evie’s progress from high school and on into grown-up life in Manhattan in the go-go 1980s. As she develops as a woman and an artist, her central struggle remains her love for an older man, Harrison Rourke, a mesmerizing presence since high school. Thayer’s rendering of Evie’s love for Rourke exquisitely captures the lure, power and all-consuming heat of the emotion.
In less talented hands, much of this story could turn into a soap opera. But Thayer so fully imbues her characters with recognizable humanity that they stand up and demand to be heard. The novelist is also awfully good as a writer. There’s a wonderful literary rendering of something on nearly every page. Bad manners have never been so well described.

http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/books/2349176,anthropology-american-girl-060610.article

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