ARC Review: My Favourite Manson Girl // Alison Umminger

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Title: My Favourite Manson Girl
Author: Alison Umminger
Publisher: Atom
Availability: 7th June 


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.


My Favourite Manson Girl is an unflinching challenge of dark themes in an accessible YA format.  It'd definitely difficult to pin point the genre. In a way, it's a crossover between contemporary and thriller. 
Umminger's focus was Anna's journey through her research on notorious serial killer Charles Manson, with more emphasis on his cohorts, the Manson Girls. During Anna's research, a number of difficulties arise, and she starts to perhaps relate to the Manson Girls in way she never expected.

Aside from her research, Anna's story is one of family and self discovery. My Favourite Manson Girl unflinchingly challenges obsession, celebrity, The American Dream, the dark side of Hollywood and what it means to be an outsider.

This book is the written answer to a reality check- as we realise that LA isn't all lights and fame, but a real place like anywhere else, leaving some unsavoury people lurking unnoticed beneath in the shadows of stardom.  

On a lighter note, Umminger explores the importance of relationships, with huge focus on the unique bond between siblings, and realistically shows the ups and downs of real family life that we can all relate to, and sometimes, take for granted.

Anna's story is one of a teen running away hoping to find something better, but learning the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Some of the things Anna experiences are really important to include in a YA, and Umminger manages to slip them in without it feeling messy or exaggerative of real life experience. 

We can rejoice at the important element of feminism, and the strength and focus on the female relationships in the book- both positive and negative- which promote a real feeling of sisterhood and insight into the perceived psyche of the not-so-notorious Manson girls themselves.

My Favourite Manson Girl is a thought-provoking and moral-strengthening read, with elements for everyone.

4/5 Stars

Happy Reading xox

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