Excerpt from Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Anthropology of an American Girl

A Novel

By Hilary Thayer Hamann

Anthropology of an American Girl
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: May 2010,
    624 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2011,
    640 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


“Grass!” Kate shouted. “I win!”

I opened my eyes to a flare of light. All that endured of the dark was a nostalgic radiance, like when you shut off a television and the shadow of the picture lingers like a miniscule ghost on the screen.

Kate and I sat on the front step of her parents’ house, watching the orphan moon elude the embrace of the trees. She was silent. I wondered if she too was waiting for the yellow porch light to click on, for the screen door to creak open from inside, for her mother to say, On rentre, mes cheries. Come back in, my loves.

The last time the door opened on us, Maman didn’t smile. That was May. Maman’s birthday is in May, was in May—I’m not sure how it goes with birthdays, whether they die when you do. Her arm unbended with difficulty to prop the door; when it snapped back on her, I caught it.

“Bon soir, Eveline,” she murmured.

When Kate’s mother said my name, she did not say Ev-a-line, the way most people did, but E-vleen, the first part coming from her mouth, the last part escaping from the cage of her throat. We embraced. Her shoulders floated waifishly within the vigorous circle of my arms. I wondered, When did she get so small? Kate and I followed her from room to room, and the floorboards grunted. In the dining room, her fingers skimmed the keys of her husband’s piano. He’d died one year before; immediately after burying him, Maman had become terminally ill. Sometimes you hear of people who are so much in love that they die together.

“I did have this piano tuned yesterday, Catherine,” Maman said in hobbled English, “in case you do ever wish to play again.” Ca-trine.

I adjusted the armchair Kate and I had moved to the kitchen weeks before, when the side effects of the chemotherapy had started to become severe. We lowered Maman down by the armpits, the way you bring a toddler to a stand, only in reverse. I tucked the chair under the table, inching her closer until she sighed, “Ah bien.”

Excerpted from Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann Copyright © 2010 by Hilary Thayer Hamann. Excerpted by permission of Spiegel & Grau, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Self-Publishing Successes

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Shotgun Lovesongs
    Shotgun Lovesongs
    by Nickolas Butler
    Nickolas Butler's debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, follows five life-long friends, now in their mid-...
  • Book Jacket: Gemini
    Gemini
    by Carol Cassella
    How good is Gemini, Carol Cassella's book about a Seattle intensive care physician who becomes ...
  • Book Jacket: The Goldfinch
    The Goldfinch
    by Donna Tartt
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer for Fiction.

    Her canvas is vast. To frame a story about art, love and ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Who Said...

The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.