I came across this book whilst looking at Atom Books’ website. It really jumped out at me. Partly because I had just read Emma Cline’s The Girls and was still fascinated by the Manson Girls and partly because of the cover. The title My Favourite Manson Girl in bright pink writing, with some quirky sunglasses. The cover gives off mixed messages. The Manson Girls evoke sinister images of the murders and cults and then the fun, girly colour and sunglasses do the exact opposite. I was intrigued.
I read the blurb and still wasn’t sure what to expect.
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 would be really easy to dislike the main character Anna. She is pretty self-involved and at times a bit whiny, basically just a normal teenage girl. But the best thing about Anna’s character for me is that she is mature enough to realise she has these flaws. The evolution of her character throughout the book is really refreshing. A lot of the time with YA I end up getting really frustrated with the main female characters because they never learn, but Anna comes to terms with what it means to be a teenager. At times she has a pretty mature voice and is also really funny. All in all a really well rounded likeable character.
I’m really not a huge fan of romance, but the romance in this book isn’t the central focus and it isn’t overdone. I feel like it helps Anna on her way to maturity and is necessary for this, but it’s not all smooshy. Which made me very happy.
The story itself is unlike anything I have read, really original, and I can imagine for a lot of girls, really relatable. Being from England, I have no idea what LA is actually like but I feel like this book captures it pretty well. Glamorous and sparkly from the outside, but then once you are in it you realise theres loads of little black holes waiting to swallow you up.
The connection between the Manson Girls and Anna’s story is done in a way that doesn’t focus on the Girls and the sinister aspect of them too much, but just highlights the fact that they were teenage girls once too. Everyone has a path to choose, and everyone has reasons for choosing that path. I would have maybe liked a little bit more about the Manson Girls, just because I find things like that fascinating, this didn’t really affect the overall story though.
I was really really surprised by this book. The plot was refreshing, original and completely not what you’d expect. I loved it.