This magnificently intense love story could be designated a literary novel, but it shares one of the most important tenets of genre romance—that a sexual relationship without love ultimately destroys the possibility of living wholly. The author draws the reader into this study of the origin, culture and development of Eveline, the title's American girl.

Eveline's journey to womanhood and her awakening as an artist begins with high school in the 1970s and takes her through college into adulthood. As an artist, Eveline is reflective of the social conditions around her, becoming a spirit of her time. She honors honesty over conformity, nurtures an expanding curiosity and a passionate respect for beauty. Explored are her various relationships with men including her father; her mother's male friends; her high-school sweetheart and first sexual partner, Rourke; and Mark, her rescuer and Rourke's enemy.

Hamann's prose, perfectly and consistently written in Eveline's voice, has been compared to Carson McCullers, Harper Lee and Willa Cather. In fact, comparison to Tom Wolfe, James Joyce and possibly Emily Dickinson is more appropriate. Read this one for its poetic narrative, its wealth of metaphors that cast the familiar into the extraordinary, and its romantically uplifting ending. (Nov., 696 pp., $30.00)

Reviewed by: 
Gerry Benninger