A Good American; Alex George
Penguin Audio - 2012
Gibson Frazier, narrator - excellent
A Good American was my book group pick for July and everyone loved it. It's a wonderful story about the German immigrant experience from 1904 through 2010.
When Jette's mother rejects the man she has fallen in love with she convinces Frederick Meisenheimer to set sail for America. The couple, with a baby on the way, eventually settle in Beatrice, Missouri, a small town with other German immigrants. While Frederick immediately falls in love with all the possibilities American has to offer, Jette with new infant son Joseph is homesick and restless, and when a second child, Rosa arrives, the couples relationship becomes strained. When World War I calls eligible young men to duty, Frederick, although now 39 and running a restaurant, enlists in the military feeling a sense of duty to the country he loves. Jette is furious.
Music is of significant importance in this story, Jazz and Blues helps the family through the tough times and keeps the family close. There are several wonderful characters who come to life on the pages as the reader follows the Meisenheimer through the generations: WWI, prohibition, the Great Depression and WWII. Heartbreak and tragedy comes often to this family and to the people they care about but, despite this they remain stronger together. The story has a nice balance of love, life, romance and loss.
Although I definitely enjoyed the first half of this book more, the entire novel was a transporting experience with an unexpected revelation as the story wound down. Alex George is a talented debut author to watch for. If you love well done immigrant stories, be sure to check this one out. The audio was excellent.