JUST READ IT! Book Review: A Good American

 Go to your new home, Frederick Meisenheimer. Go and be a good American.

I instantly fell in love with A Good American. I fell head over heels in love for Frederick and Jette by the time I hit page 7.  I am also mad for Mr. George’s writing. It is so eloquent, so smooth, so wonderful. This is the man’s first novel? He’s a writing genius!

There were times during this tale that I cried so hard I couldn’t see the words swimming in front of me. There were times during this tale when I laughed out loud. As Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants) praises on the back cover, this book “…had me alternately laughing and crying but always riveted. It’s a rich, rare treat of a book.” This couldn’t have been better stated. It was one of those “I can’t put this down” kind of read.

A Good American is a tale about Frederick and Jette’s move to America from Hanover, Germany in 1904. An immediate exodus is required following a blow out with Jette’s snobby mother who could not accept the love Frederick had for Jette. The story is told from the perspective of Frederick and Jette’s grandson, James and is told with so much love and honour and humour too, it made me smile and wistful from the very first pages. (and when you get to the part where you realize why they bestowed the name James, grab your tissues. You’ll actually need many tissues off and on however. I’m just warning you now.)

It can also be considered a love letter to America in a way, with all its dreams, hopes and promises. And yet, sometimes the very ugly side of America too. It has hints of Forrest Gump, as we travel through two World Wars, presidential assassians and a walk down musical memory lane with nods to ragtime, blues, Louie Armstrong, Glen Miller mentions, etc.

Any lingering homesickness had been eradicated by his first excursion onto the streets of America. Everything he’d seen had been unimaginably different from the dry, dour streets of Hanover, and to his surprise he was not sorry in the slightest. He was smitten by the beguiling otherness of it all.

And so began my grandfather’s rapturous love affair with America — an affair that would continue until the day he died.

And depending on your viewpoint, Twitter was a marvelous engine to regale/stalk (see it depends on your/his viewpoint) Alex George with 140 characters of gushing love for this book. I cannot gush enough about the writing and the story itself, about how wonderfully and effortlessly the words roll off the pages. There is just the right (superb) amount of description, emotion and detail. The Meisenheimer’s and the other cast of fabulous characters will never let you go. Alex George has captured the family unit with all the little misunderstandings and misinterpretations with utter brillance along with all the quirks and quarks associated with life in a small town. The whole thing is just damn beautiful.  You honestly need to experience for yourself. And there’s a few little humdingers of secrets that await you at the end too!

An enthusiastic, two solid thumbs up, 5 star read, in my opinion! Oh! That feels so good! I needed a solid 5 star read! And A Good American seals that deal and meant it needed a standing ovation filled with laughter and tears and also, sadness knowing that I will no longer be spending time in Beatrice, Missouri.

(are you reading it yet? Go on! Go! Get it! Start reading!)