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About the Book

About the Book

Anywhere But Here

Mona Simpson's ambitious first novel Anywhere But Here became a national bestseller upon its publication in 1987. It traces the difficult childhood and coming-of-age of Ann August, the daughter of a woman whose quest for the American dream moves the two of them from Wisconsin to California and from one odd situation to another, with Ann at the mercy of her mother's strange whims. Ann has inherited the rich black hair of her Egyptian father, who left when she was little. Her mother, Adele, insists it is her hair that makes her special--"cuter than Buffy" on A Family Affair--and that might make her a successful child television star. One day Adele decides to leave her second husband, Ted, and taking his Lincoln Continental and his gasoline credit card, she sets off with ten-year-old Ann for Los Angeles.

Ann is an unusually attentive and observant child who reflects ruefully on the life she leads with her mother. Left behind in Wisconsin are the two people Ann loves best in the world: her grandmother Lillian and her cousin Benny. Adele is at the center of Ann's troubles: always hoping to get rich, to get married again, to have a more comfortable life, she takes an apartment in Beverly Hills that she cannot afford to furnish. Here they try to appear normal among the rich and fashionable while Adele dates wealthy men, spends too much on clothes, fails to pay the bills, and bounces checks. Lending depth and context to the story of Adele and Ann are narratives by Adele's mother, Lillian, and her sister Carol.

Adele and Ann are unique and powerful characters, fully created, who linger long in the reader's mind. Mona Simpson says about Anywhere But Here, "The book is about roots and the people who went west and tried to get more from life, because that seems to me the story of life in America.... Adele is unstable, but troubled by American troubles: by the striving for gentility, the striving for a higher station. I wanted her dreams to be what got her into trouble."

Anywhere But Here
by Mona Simpson

  • Publication Date: January 15, 1992
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • ISBN-10: 0679737383
  • ISBN-13: 9780679737384