Little Earthquakes: A Good American
By Karen Ballum on February 20, 2013
BlogHer Original Post
If you are like me, when you turn the last page in Alex George's novel, A Good American, all you'll be able to think is "Wow!" You'll find yourself in a bit of a fog as you stop and think back on the journey that you just finished. Of course, I mean all this in the best possible way.
The Meisenheimer family immigrates to America under less than ideal circumstances. Jette and Frederick flee Germany when Jette's pregnancy is discovered by her mother, with little more than the clothes on their backs and any valuables Jette was able to remove from her family's safe. They decide to start a new life in America. A Good American is narrated by Frederick and Jette's grandson James. He's a third-generation American who still lives in Beatrice, Missouri, where his grandparents found themselves by accident. James weaves a tale of Frederick's love of America and Jette's determination to overcome any obstacles placed in her path. It's a story of a family's loves and losses. It's about how we don't always know our own stories and how the process of finding that out can change us.
As you might expect in a multi-generational family saga, A Good American has plenty of family drama. When you are dealing with a story that spans decades, that drama isn't always happy. At points during the novel some of the sad events had reviewer Trish almost wanting to put the novel in the freezer, like Joey on Friends. In addition to moments of sadness, there were many secrets that flowed from one generation to the other that had to be unraveled. George doesn't go for the large climactic moments. He reveals things quietly and deliberately, like a series of little earthquakes that knock you off balance.
When you get to the end, you'll be surprised by how far you've traveled with this family. You'll find yourself missing the couple you met on the first pages, but you won't be able to help but be surprised by the events set in moment one day in a park when a young man serenaded a young woman to get her attention. Life leads us on some twisted paths, and some decisions have implications for generations to come.
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