Anywhere But Here Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Anywhere But Here

This is a story about how a girl is able to grow through intense trauma in her early years as a child because of her delusional and manipulative mother and makes it to become self sufficient while inheriting none of the destructive traits. Ann has to grow through an extremely toxic environment both emotionally and mentally and somehow maintain the right perspective of the world when she grows up to become successful enough to hold her own against the world. From when she was a baby, her mother, Adele, dreamed that Ann would be a child star even though agents told her the competition was stiff. She wanted out of Bay City, Wisconsin through any means. Later on, they lived with Ann's doting grandmother at Lime Kiln Road next door to Adele's sister, Carol and her husband and two kids. When Ann is 9, she and Adele go for ice skating lessons where she meets Ted.
Click here to see the rest of this review

Ted is an ice skating pro and the two start to date. Soon, Adele moves into his windowless house with Ann. Adele is a bad influence on Ted as she makes him spend far beyond his means. The house has a lot of fancy clothes but almost no furniture. Soon Ted has to take on extra hours at work and the two grow apart. Similarly, financial issues drive a wedge between them and Adele does not want to accept the truth. She steals a Lincoln continental from an elderly person and takes Ted's credit card and goes to California with Ann.

She takes a job as a speech therapist and rents a furnished studio in Beverly hill so that Ann can attend Beverly Hills high school with the wealthy kids. Obviously she lives beyond her means and gets fired but she gets a job working for the Kellers, who son Peter is Ann's friend. She also gets fired here but continues to rent the guest house with Ann for her high school years. During this time, she tries a series of relationships with many men in the aim of finding the one rich one. When Ann reaches 17 she auditions and wins the role on a hit TV series. At this time, she is working for a year and manages to support her college fees while getting freedom from her mother for the first time. The job only lasts the year but she still gets residual checks. Nonetheless she never returns home and only visits her grandmother during holidays. Adele rents a house on the beach from the Keller's and buys a luxurious car with the money sent from Ann. As much as she continues with her irresponsible life, Ann seems to be getting everything together.
Best part of story, including ending: I like that the story evolves on a girl that grew up in abuse of all forms and still managed to collect herself into a responsible adult.

Best scene in story: I like the scene at the end where Adele shows that she is still in denial about Ann and the way she treated her daughter. she says that her childhood could not have been that bad if Ann had not turned out so well in the first place. The argument shows a delusion and fear of having been so wrong in the first place on Adele's part which is comical.

Opinion about the main character: I like that Ann is able to forgive her mother through everything she went through and still send her a part of her checks to support her. That is true altruism.

The review of this Book prepared by Nicholas Waithaka a Level 3 Eurasian Jay scholar

Ann's mother Adele is making her move across the country, from Wisconsin to California. In California, she has no apartment, no job, no prospects, but she is convinced that nothing will ever happen to her if she doesn't leave Wisconsin, where all of her family live. Ann is grief-stricken at leaving her aunt, uncle, grandmother, cousin, and step-father, but Adele is the type of person who is always excited about something and never seems to look back.

In California, Ann adapts better than does her mother. While Adele continues to struggle with finding a job and a suitable man, Ann finds friends, a boyfriend, and an acting job on a primetime television show. The whole time, though, she continues to fight with and resent her mother. The primary focus of this book is the blowouts between the generally serious Ann and the often childish, impractical, and eccentric Adele.

The narration shifts among Ann, her Aunt Carol, and her grandmother Lillian, adding a level of plot and backstory to the novel. Through those chapters told by Carol and Lillian, we learn of the women who stood in for Adele as mother figures during Ann's early childhood, and we learn of their own childhoods and secret pasts.
The review of this Book prepared by Melissa Rachiele

Chapter Analysis of Anywhere But Here

Click on a plot link to find similar books!

Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   very sensitive (sigh)    -   humorous Time/era of story    -   1980's-1999    -   2000+ (Present Day) Family, struggle with    -   Yes Struggle with:    -   Mother (or standin) Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Age 11-14

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   student    -   actor/actress/producer Age:    -   a teen Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   2 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Midwest    -   California

Writing Style

Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

Books with storylines, themes & endings like Anywhere But Here

Mona Simpson Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
2 Ways to Search!

Our Chief Librarian