I’ve had my eye on this book for SO. LONG. Ever since the hardback came out. The combination of the title, the cover, and the description were too much to pass up. So why I did, is a mystery to me. Thank goodness for BlogHer, as I finally got my hands on a copy.
And boy, I got everything I wanted and more.
A Good American is a multi-generational story of epic proportions. I mean, it’s huge people. The story of the Meisenheimer family starts with Frederick and Jette, traveling across the Atlantic to Mississippi from Germany (before WWI) (whenever I hear “fleeing Germany” I automatically think WWII, so I wanted to clarify) (they were not fleeing war, rather, a mother), where poor pregnant Jette’s water breaks. The story follows their lives in Mississippi, their search for acceptance, and on down through their children and their children’s children. I love Frederick and Jette; they were such an unlikely pair. The music of this novel (and the food!), and the lives of this family, is a thing of beauty. See, this novel is a culmination of everything I love! Family, music, America, and food! (Not necessarily in that order.)
And the writing? The writing is wonderful. George’s debut novel doesn’t read like a first novel. The characters, the story, are fully realized – no small accomplishment even for a seasoned novelist. It’s hard to believe George spent 8 years working as a corporate lawyer in London! George, and his novel, or rather, his novel, have stolen my heart with this beautiful story. And I can’t wait for George’s next novel and am hoping this will restore some of my love of historical fiction. It has been way too long!
Bits I loved:
We are all immigrants, a glorious confection of races and beliefs, united by the rock that we live on. As the years wash over us and new generations march into the future, family histories are subsumed into the greater narrative. We become, simply, Americans.
“What is it?” She hissed through clenched teeth. “What’s wrong?”
He bent down toward her. “I was just thinking how beautiful you looked.”
The punch was impressive, both accurate and strong. Jette’s fist caught her husband squarely on the jaw. It was an absolute peach of a shot, and it propelled him backward into the chest of drawers.
“This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.” And thank you Penguin, as always, for the opportunity.