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Anywhere but Here by Mona Simpson
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Anywhere but Here (1986)

by Mona Simpson

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Anywhere but Here by Mona Simpson; (2 1/2*)

The author divides the book in an unusual manner. Each section has a different character speaking about past and present experiences. There are chapters written by Anne, Adele, Lillian, and Carol.
Overall the book was a bit over the top which made it difficult to care about what was going on within the story.
The mother is a whack job whose teenage daughter has more sense than she does. Adele thinks her daughter is ready to be a star; which is what she wants for her while the daughter is an academic who wants an education so they move from Wisconsin to California. There they find life difficult but the mother is too dense to realize what is and is not important.
The mother is a pathetic creature wanting, wanting, wanting and all at the expense of her daughter, whether knowingly or not. I could not be sympathetic for her. The daughter is a very strong girl though she does not realize it and is continually picking up the pieces of their lives.
All in all I found this read to be just okay enough to complete it.

The author divides the book in an unusual manner. Each section has a different character speaking about past and present experiences. There are chapters written by Anne, Adele, Lillian, and Carol.
Overall the book was a bit over the top which made it difficult to care about what was going on within the story.
The mother is a whack job whose teenage daughter has more sense than she does. Adele thinks her daughter is ready to be a star (what she wants for her, while the daughter is an academic who wants an education) so they move from Wisconsin to California. There they find life difficult but the mother is too dense to realize what is and is not important.
The mother is a pathetic creature wanting, wanting, wanting and all at the expense of her daughter, whether knowingly or not. I could not be sympathetic for her. The daughter is a very strong girl though she does not realize it and is continually picking up the pieces of their lives.
All in all I found this read to be just okay enough to complete it. ( )
  rainpebble | Sep 7, 2015 |
Read during Spring 2002

I don't understand the reviews on the cover that said 'funny'. More tragic and disturbing. The different points of view was an interesting way to tell the story but Ann's story is really the most interesting one and Carol's narratives can be disruptive, even if they fill in the blanks. It seemed to complete peter out at the end but the final 3 or 4 pages of Adele's narrative blindsided me. She is a difficult character and I didn't find anything sympathetic in her, although I think I was supposed. Promising but didn't quite make it. This is the first book I released through Book Crossing.....
  amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
I've had this book for years and decided to read it cause it was in Nancy Pearl's Book Lust. There were some parts that were okay, but I wasn't a huge fan of this book. The mother, Adele August, drove me nuts! I hated this woman and I've seen women similar to her in real-life! A girl back in high school did an essay/project on it and she thought it was funny. I didn't find it to be really funny at all, and I was expecting it to be a bit different. ( )
  briannad84 | Feb 22, 2012 |
Half the dysfunction STILL would have been too much. This book was such a downer. Adele, the mother, was a complete flake. Ann, her daughter, always overcomes--somehow or other. Author sometimes abruptly changes the course of action. There were several times I thought I had turned ,multiple pages and lost the plot line, but no. I was reading consecutive pages, just another random plot twist from nowhere. ( )
1 vote mojomomma | Aug 24, 2011 |
This is by-far one of my all time favorite books! I have read it twice. At times I can relate to Ann and at times I can relate to Adele. I'll probly read it again someday. ( )
  djfox | Jul 6, 2009 |
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Epigraph
There are three wants which can never be satisfied; that of the rich wanting more, that of the sick, wanting something different, and that of the traveler, who says, "anywhere but here." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Dedication
For Joanne, our mother, and my brother Steve
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We fought.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
A moving, often comic portrait of wise child Ann August and her mother, Adele, a larger-than-life American dreamer. As they travel through the landscape of their often conflicting ambitions, Ann and Adele brings to life a novel that is a brilliant exploration of the perennial urge to keep moving even at the risk of profound disorientation.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679737383, Paperback)

"Strangers always love my mother," Ann August tells us at the start of Anywhere But Here. "And even if you hate her, can't stand her, even if she's ruining your life, there's something about her, some romance, some power. She's absolutely herself. No matter how hard you try, you'll never get to her. And when she dies, the world will be flat, too simple, reasonable, fair." Indeed, over the course of the dozen or so years chronicled in Mona Simpson's first novel, Ann and everyone else related to the charming, delusional Adele learn this the hard way. Ann does hate her at times; Adele does indeed come pretty close to ruining Ann's life on numerous occasions, or at least scarring it, and yet, ultimately, it isn't possible not to love her. As Ann puts it: "The thing about my mother and me is that when we get along we're just the same."

This is a woman who uproots her child from Wisconsin and moves to Los Angeles, leaving behind a dull husband (not Ann's father--who wandered off long ago but makes appearances here in memories), under the premise that life will be beautiful and Ann will become a famous television star. But her lifelong dream and goal ("It was our secret, a nighttime whispered promise" turns out, like so many things in the Augusts' lives, to be lackluster when it becomes reality. Adele merely feeds on fantasy and drags her daughter along.

Nevertheless, it's hard not to worship her. We hear from her mother, her sister, from Ann, and finally from Adele herself, and no matter how she's used people, what trouble she's gotten into, or what lies she's told--and there are plenty of all three--a certain amount of awe always remains. When we come upon Ann's proclamation that "it's always the people like my mother, who start the noise and bang things, who make you feel the worst; they are the ones who get your love." It's startling to realize how heartily we agree with her. Anywhere But Here gives truth to this statement in a way that few books ever have. It's dense with misery and amazement all tangled together--a realistic and thus rare portrait of love. --Melanie Rehak

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:35 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Restless and ambitious Adele August and her twelve-year-old daughter Ann run away to California with a host of American dreams and myths to lead them.

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