The central characters are two very different, high school friends Issac English and Billy Poe. Isaac was top in his class, brilliant like his sister Lee who is left Buell and is now a student at Yale. While Isaac should to off attending a top rated college as well, instead he is at home caring for his disabled father who was injured at work. His mother committed suicide earlier. Billy Poe was a football hero in high school, but instead of going off to college on an athletic scholarship, the angry, hot-headed Billy stays back in his hometown of Buell as well.
One day Isaac decides to leave town with some of his father's money. He tells he buddy his plans to hitch a train and head for Berkeley, CA. However, when an incident involving some homeless men results in one person dead, and later an identifying jacket is found at the scene, the lives of these two friends, and the people close to them will be forever changed.
MY THOUGHTS - American Rust is an amazing debut novel -- the title fits the story perfectly. The story is told through shifting perspectives, and through the inner thoughts of the characters --a style that works well. A cautionary novel that showcases what often happens to once booming towns when the good jobs dry up, and the families left behind are unable to work and support their families. It's also a story about moral dilemmas, and about people who have too much time on their hands, and some who make the wrong choices in life. The characters in this novel, even the minor ones, are flawed yet so very realistic. American Rust is a sad story, but if you can handle that, and go in with your eyes wide open, this book is really a worthwhile read. I think this book would be a good choice for book club discussion. I'll be looking for future works by this author. RECOMMENDED - 4/5 stars.
Philipp Meyer grew up in Baltimore, dropped out of high school, and got his GED when he was sixteen. After spending several years volunteering at a trauma center in downtown Baltimore, he attended Cornell University, where he studied English. Since graduating, Meyer has worked as a derivatives trader at UBS, a construction worker, and an EMT, among other jobs. His writing has been published in McSweeney’s, The Iowa Review, Salon.com, and New Stories from the South. From 2005 to 2008 Meyer was a fellow at the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, Texas. He splits his time between Texas and upstate New York.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the Opportunity to Read/Review this Book.
(To view the complete list of tour stops, and links to other reviews for this book visit the TLC site.)