Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Review: A Good American by George Alex

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam
Pages: 400
Source: Personal Copy
Released: 2012
Rating: 4.5/5


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.


  1. I love historical fiction and family stories so this book seems like it's right down my alley!

  2. I saw this one at the library the last time I went but I did not pick it up. Now I wish I did! Sounds like a great read.

  3. I need another book for my Immigtant Challenge 2012 and this fits the bill. I'll have to get to it soon!

  4. I am adding this one to my wish list right this second. It sounds good!

  5. I really like that this one focuses so much on family. I read almost all YA books for the blog and so many times the families are absent in those stories, so it's nice to find a book where family is such a strong element and driving force. Thanks for the review Jennifer!

  6. I have to start this one soon! It sounds so excellent! I love the way you describe it and I am happy to hear that it lived up to the hype! Great review today. I am digging this one out very soon!

  7. I have really been wanting to read this!! I'm glad it lived up to the hype for you. It's neat how he is able to show the lives of all three generations and use to that define life in America (I guess...?? LOL). Great review.

  8. This one sounds interesting and I like the fact that it spans generations. It probably give the reader a good glimpse into how each generation adjusted to their surroundings. No doubt it had to be a bit easier each go round. Jette sounds like a character I'd love to get to know. And I love that she protected her family and what she wanted by leaving and deciding to live the life she wanted to. I'm sure she got much more than she bargained for though.

  9. Sounds good. Like it would make a cool movie too.

  10. "A truly amazing debut novel, that covers three generations and keeps the reader engaged." - this sentence caught my attention. Being an immigrant myself, I'm sure I will find this book interesting. I'm adding A Good American to my TBR list. Thank you for such a wonderful review.

  11. This one has been on my TBR, but pretty far down. I'm going to bump it though; it sounds very good! Thanks for the review!

  12. I loved this book and I'm happy to see more people find it! I had no idea going into it I would love it as much as I did, and I hoping more & more people discover it.