This book takes a daring look into the long and intense relationship between a mother and her daughter. The readers are escorted by the daughter, Ann, through her carefully selected experiences. Occasionally, Simpson cleverly throws in candid tales told by various authority figures in Ann's life. The readers are asked to assume Ann's role, as the characters scold or lecture them, thereby pulling the readers even deeper into Ann's dysfunctional life. Through dropped clues and insinuated remarks we discover that Ann's father has left her family to become an actor on television. Like any single mother who wants to do well for her child, Ann's mother is forced to make sacrifices. Ann's mother, Adele, decides that there are only two ways for her family to have what they deserve: either Ann becomes a child star, or she catches herself a husband. After a few attempts by Adele to find "the good life" in her small hometown, she and Ann decide to pack everything up and move to California, the land of fortune. If this book were a fairytale, then Ann and her mother would find their fortune; but the truth is that life is even harder for them in Beverly Hills, and slowly their hope and desire corrode into anger and insanity.
This book is a brilliant social commentary on today's power-hungry society. Adele is convinced that as long as she and Ann have the "right" clothes, car, and attitudes, they will be accepted into the glamorous life, and therefore, absolute bliss. The harder Adele tries to fit into society, the farther away she gets from her own identity and self worth, and slowly begins to drive herself crazy. Ann is the product of her mother's incessant lying and emotional abuse. Ann's experiences are candid and revealing and the readers are faced with their own vulnerabilities and secrets. The characters are both believable and likable, which make it impossible to pass judgment on their actions as Simpson challenges us to do.
Anywhere But Here is a satisfying and engaging classic for both adults and adolescents. Simpson has held up a looking glass before America, and described what she has seen. n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.