A lot has been heard about A Good American and we wanted to know what all the hype was about. We picked up this novel by Alex George, a humble story about the American dream. Find a detailed review of the book below.
What Is It About?
A Good American tells the story of the Meisenheimer family who shifted to America from Germany in 1904. The story takes us back to the time when the family’s first-generation, Frederick and his pregnant, yet-to-become-wife Jette first set foot in the American soil as German immigrants. While Frederick starts to fall in love with America as soon as they enter the country, Jette feels homesick. They soon settle in Beatrice a small farming town in Missouri that is home to many of their fellow German immigrants. Jette gives birth to a son they name Joseph. Then his sister Rosa is born a few years later. Frederick starts the business of bar that thrives. But Frederick and Jette’s relationship (they are now married) is on the brink of falling apart.
Then the news of America entering World War I comes. Frederick enlists to fight in the war. And the irony is, he will be fighting against his own people – the Germans. When Frederick gets killed in the war, the responsibility of running the bar falls on Jette. And she handles it expertly with the help of Lomax, a cornet player. But another tragedy strikes and this time it is Lomax facing it. The restaurant is now run by Joseph and Cora. Cora and Joseph become parents to 4 sons. Since Joseph has inherited his father’s love for music, he is inspired to turn his quartets into a barbershop quartet- a popular style of close harmony singing.
The story then goes on to reveal what challenges the current generation of the family faces in their adoptive land, America. Because there is no end to suffering at the hands of prejudices and injustice when it comes to living in a different land than your own.
The compelling and heart touching story is told by James, the second son of Joseph and Cora. His voice telling the story of his ancestors is filled with nostalgia and with a touch of wonderment that comes from telling a story of a time when you weren’t present.
The writing makes you laugh, drop a tear or two and contemplate what it means to truly belong, whether to a country or your own family.
We rate it 4/5. A Good American is an uplifting book. We don’t think there is anyone who will not feel involved in the crisis of the Meisenheimer and compare it with their own.