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.
This is a book that I wanted to read since the moment I heard about it. And thanks to Hachette Australia, I received a lovely hardback copy. :)
Anna is a troubled teen. After things get really messy back home and she can't put up with her 'crazy' mother and 'mean' stepmother, she steals her stepmum's credit card and flies to Los Angeles. She just wants to get away from Atlanta, and luckily has an older sister waiting there.
That's when her mother drops a bombshell on them, and tells Anna to stay with her sister (Delia) all summer.
Delia is an actress. She has as many secrets as she tells lies. Yet she seems to have a steady stream of B-grade roles and a nice apartment on the Hollywood Hills. She also has a really nice scriptwriter boyfriend (Dex) and an ex (Roger) who keeps pulling her back into his life with the lure of the next breakthrough project.
Anna's life might suck, but at least she gets paid by Roger to read a bunch of creepy Manson family books. She becomes fascinated and disgusted by the Manson girls, and saddened about the victims. So much it starts freaking her out. She also gets to hang out with Dex on the set of a corny but popular TV show. A show starring the Taylor twins: two hotties around her age.
The longer Anna spends in Tinseltown, the more she realises that this isn't just the city where dreams come true. It's also where they go to die...
Well, this book is heavy on just about everything. But in the best way possible! I loved Anna. She was troubled but, more than that, I think she was misunderstood and ignored by the people who mattered most--her parents. Her divorced parents have their own lives and problems to deal with, and she usually winds up taking the backseat to everyone/everything else.
The parallels between most of the Manson girl origins and her current situation are eerie, but definitely there. I liked how she shared the research information about those crazy lost girls, but it wasn't glorified, and she wasn't obsessed with them in a damaging way.
I also really liked the way she described LA. This wasn't about the glitzy side where famous people are perfect and successful. She saw the darker more realistic side, where writers and actors struggle every single day to stay afloat. Or even manage to have enough jobs lined up, but always remain in the shadows of the Hollywood we all think we know.
There's so much to like in this book! Especially Anna's snarky and honest voice, Delia's fabricated existence, and all the other characters who turn this story into a weird and wonderful experience. I also really liked the writing style.
My Favourite Manson Girl is so much better than I expected. It's an awesome adventure through the darker spaces of a place usually portrayed as fabulous. It's also one girl's summer of discovery and learning more about herself than she ever thought. Not to mention a great family drama! And there's even a touch of very unconventional romance. The focus never sways from Anna's self-discovery and self-acceptance.
This book might be primarily about Anna, but it's also about girls not wanting to lose themselves even when they get swept up in an uncontrollable swelling tide of expectation and disappointment.
I loved everything about this book.
My Favourite Manson Girl, June 2016, ISBN 9781472150851, Atom