My Favourite Manson Girl aka American Girls by Alison Umminger
Anna feels everything is wrong with her life so she runs away to her sister in LA. But Hollywood isn’t an escape. It’s a place where everything is available and nothing has meaning. She is offered a job researching the murderous Manson girls for a dodgy film and she starts seeing unnerving parallels with her own life. This is an excellent tale of being young, lost and female.
“The kind of pretty that turned a girl into prey.”
“If he had been born thirty years later, TLC would have given him a reality show, and the world might have been a safer place.”
“Tragic is interesting but only if there was no collateral damage, and there always is.”
Defectors by Joseph Kanon
In the 1960s Simon travels to Moscow to visit his brother Frank. His brother defected years ago and now has written a memoir and wants Simon to edit it. Simon is reunited with Frank and meets the small community of defectors who live uneasily in Moscow. Soon it becomes clear that Frank has a plan.
This is a good tale of deceit, weirdly limited social lives, a much maligned man, brotherly froideur, lack of contrition, intractable natures, a brother who draws judgement and another who struggles to make coherent sense of his sibling. This was done with a surprising degree of solemnity; Simon finds the defectors and the USSR to be poisonously bad things. The siblings engage in extensive debate but are unable to communicate or comprehend each other’s POV leading to tragedy.
“How to be like us.”
“You don’t leave. Ever.”
The Worst Kids In The World aka The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson.
This 1971 novel sees horrible kids take over the school nativity play, they are badly behaved and out of control with an absent dad, a neglectful mom and an attack cat. This was okay.
A Judgement In Stone by Ruth Rendell
In this dull 1977 novel, an illiterate woman kills to keep her secrets.