Oh, God, this book. I loved every minute of it, yet spent most of the time I was reading it utterly enraged by the adult characters.
Being 1) ancient and 2) on the internet, I can’t help but notice there are a lot of underparented young people around. I don’t mean that as some sort of criticism of feral youth; I just mean I keep meeting people online who’re in their teens and twenties, and they’re practically having to figure out the world from scratch, because the adults in their lives are too busy FUBARing their own lives to be of any help.
Anna, the main character in American Girls, has two biological parents, plus a stepmother (her mother’s girlfriend) and by the end a second stepmother (her father’s very young new wife), and I hated them all. Hated. Wished they were real so I could call CPS on them.
And the worst part is, I don’t think the book is particularly unrealistic.
None of Anna’s parents are abusive (other than emotionally, because blaming your daughter for your having cancer is, yes, actually abuse), and they feed her, but…they’ve checked out of her life in a big way, more concerned about their own lives, and getting validation for their dumb choices, than they are with her. They’re self-absorbed assholes, and the mother has some kind of personality disorder (Anna reflects, more than once, on how her mother can say something and then later pretend that she didn’t say it at all, leaving you questioning your own sanity).
Towards the end Anna’s sister advises her not to expect more from people than they’re able to give you. She’s not wrong, but it’s a damned bleak kind of wisdom to have to hand out to a high school student.