Dolls of Our Lives: Why We Can’t Quit American Girl

Feiwel & Friends. Nov. 2023. 256p. ISBN 9781250792839. $28.99. SOC SCI
Horrocks and Mahoney’s new book builds on their eponymous podcast, which explores the books comprising the “American Girl” series. The two mix their training as historians with 1990s pop culture nostalgia. They’ve interviewed doll lovers, visited the real-world inspirations for some of the novels’ settings, and written with authentic love about the American Girl dolls. The book centers stories about the canon of dolls as it gives glimpses of how and why certain dolls appealed to the authors. It also explores the various, complex iterations of what girlhood looked like—in their own lives and in others’ upbringing—but mostly from the perspective of how American Girl dolls impacted their fans and solidified bonds between friends and family members. Consequently, some readers may find they want a bigger theoretical analysis, moving from this specific view to a more general exploration of adolescence and pop cultural references.
VERDICT A nostalgic analysis full of intriguing details. Sure to delight people who grew up with American Girl dolls, but it may be too niche for some readers.
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