Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Review: A Good American by George Alex
Source: Personal Copy
James Meisenheimer opens the story with a retelling of his grandparent’s voyage to America. Jette and Frederick were hopelessly in love, inseparable and denied by Jette’s wealthy parents. In their eyes, Jette would never marry below her rank. When Jette discovers she is pregnant, she wants to leave Germany and escape the wrath of her mother. She takes a few valuable items from home, and tells Frederick that they must leave right away. Frederick afraid that her parents would think it was him who stole from them is panicked, afraid to loose Jette, he decides they must go right away. The couple book passage on the first available ship to America. Shortly after their arrival, before they are settled-their first son is born. The couple decide to stay in Beatrice, Missouri where they feel comfortable living amongst many Germany immigrants. Jette is immediately home sick, and Frederick throws himself into work and finding out what it means to be American. Mistakes are made, a world war happens, prohibition, and life goes on even during the hardships.
I couldn’t ignore the amount of buzz that surrounded this book when it was first released, and I’m happy to state that it deserves all the recognition. A truly amazing debut novel, that covers three generations and keeps the reader engaged. The characters are rich, multidimensional and captivating. Alex’s prose is beautiful and well-crafted. I fell in love with the Meisenheimer family, and I was glad to be taken on their journey.
This is a story that I’m sure many can relate to. Jette and Frederick had many hopes and dreams, unfortunately life happens and not everything is happily ever after. It was really interesting to see how the war impacted them. Jette couldn’t agree with German-American’s fighting against Germany, while Frederick sided as an American. Jette was my favorite character; she was strong but realistically flawed. Her emotions and reactions really shined through for me.
James takes readers through his grandparents’, parents’ and then his own generation. I would forget about James, and be taken out of the story which bothered me at first but I did get comfortable and really began to enjoy his narration. Each generation has their own set of issues, and they discover what it means to be American. This book will appeal not only to readers who enjoy historical fiction but readers who enjoy a great family story filled with ups and downs.