Friday 28 October 2016

Young Adult : My favourite Manson Girl by Alison Umminger

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Barbara Clinton

Published 30/05/2016 | 02:30

My favourite Manson Girl by Alison Umminger.
My favourite Manson Girl by Alison Umminger.

In the end, Anna doesn't really have a favourite Manson girl, though she does have a sense of how life for, at least, one of them just might have put her on the path to murder and mayhem. Alison Umminger's first novel is less interested in those sensationally dangerous followers of cult leader Charles Manson than in how ordinary everyday teenagers negotiate lives of separated parents, new partners, new babies, school-yard popularity tests and ever-changing rules.

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Fifteen-year-old Anna takes flight from the angst that is her life in Atlanta to Los Angeles with absolutely no plan about what will happen when the plane lands.

The physical journey from hometown to big city quickly pales in significance with the journey Anna has to make from typically needy, mouthy teen to an almost-wiser version of herself.

Thanks to her actor sister, Delia, she finds herself in the surprisingly tolerant company of a bunch of otherwise self-centred movie types, who leave her be but never abandon her. She even manages to cast one in the role of a part-time surrogate father. And she gets paid work researching the Manson girls for a movie that may never get made, which brings her into the frightening world those young women inhabited in the grip of Manson.

Much to the annoyance of Delia, Anna's research reading gives her a heightened sense of danger everywhere. But is this just the paranoia of a suggestible teen or something more sinister?

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