Anna has had a miserable year. Everything feels wrong with her life. And rather than stay and face the mess, she steals a credit card and books herself a seat on the first flight out of town to Los Angeles, to crash with her sister. But soon after she lands, cold reality soon dawns on her: Hollywood isn’t the escape she needs. She is trapped in a town full of lost souls and wannabes, with no friends, no cash and no return ticket.
When she’s offered a job researching the murderous Manson girls for a dubious film, she reluctantly accepts – she needs the money. But soon enough, among the fake smiles and glitter-fuelled parties, things turn from strange, to dark, to dangerous . . .
This is not going to be the summer Anna had in mind.
It was almost too easy to hate on Los Angeles. The city was a kind of frank show of broken hearts and half-fulfilled dreams, full of artists, liars, parasites, and roadkill, all of whom had just a touch of violence in their hearts.
I went into this book knowing very little about the Manson Family. What can I say: I’m 16, and have clearly lived quite a sheltered life. However, I’m glad I went into this book blind, because I got to learn about this horror with Anna, our protagonist, alongside me.
Whilst I originally thought this book would be a horror, and almost mirror the Manson-era, I am extremely happy I assumed wrong: This book, in my opinion, read like a documentary, and for that I applaud it – it was so unique, and unexpectedly informing. That being said, reading this book didn’t feel like a chore. With each turn of the page, it was even more exciting and action-packed, so much so that I didn’t want to put it down!
At the same time, though, this book was written from first-person perspective, and so we spent a lot of time in Anna’s head. Thus, if you don’t like streams of consciousness, this book is unlikely for you. However, I really liked the way that we watched at Anna began figuring things out, and learning, and thinking back to things, and making connections between them. Frankly, it was like being in my own head, but having everything written down. It was also really interesting to see how she thinks, to learn how she thinks, and get used to it. In this way, it was a lot like reading A Catcher in the Rye – you learn about the protagonist from the inside out.
In terms of our protagonist – Anna – all I can say is how grateful I am for her. Finally – finally! – we have a female, existential protagonist – someone I can relate to on many more levels! I’m so used to reading books featuring a male protagonist who is struggle to find his way, and reading this idea from a female perspective is such a welcome change.
I could relate to Anna more than I’ve ever related to the majority of protagonists I’ve read about.
In the same vein, because this book was written from first-person perspective, and because Anna is an outspoken, vehement girl, the book is written in quite an unapologetic manner – nothing is left unsaid, nothing is sugar-coated. And I loved to read from such a perspective; I’m so sick of reading from the naive girl’s perspective, or the popular girl. Anna is confident, and quick-witted, and real. And it wasn’t just Anna – though melodramatic at times, none of the characters felt fabricated, all of them feeling tangible, their emotions valid and realistic.
Finally, I would like to point out how interesting this book is. If you’re interested in modern history, or crime, this novel will definitely pique your interest like it did mine. Likewise, this is the first time I’ve read about Los Angeles in a negative, honest light, which was a really eye-opening experience. Everyone always talks about how LA is where dreams come true, where stars are born, but it was refreshing to read about the struggles these very same stars face.
Overall, I really – unexpectedly – enjoyed this book. It was unique, interesting, and really funny at times.
(Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)
For someone who did a lot of yoga and had a peace sign tramp stamp on her lower back, she sure could be a bitch.