A Good American, by Alex George, is a sweeping story of the Meisenheimer family in America.
Told by James Meisenheimer, the book begins in Germany with the story of how Jette and Frederick -- James' grandparents -- met and fell in love. It follows the young couple on their journey out of Germany and to America, finally settling in Missouri in 1904. And that is where the bulk of the story takes place: the farming town of Beatrice, Missouri.
James tells the story of Jette and Frederick settling in Beatrice and having their first child, Joseph (James' father), and then their second, Rosa. They work hard and establish themselves in the town, slowly becoming more American. Just as they change, so does the world -- we see them deal with WWI, prohibition, racism, WWII, floods, and lots and lots of death.
Family members die, as happens in life. Since James is telling the story of his family from his vantage point of an elderly man, it makes sense that he tells of all those who die along the way. You might think the book would be sad with all this death but it isn't. A Good American is not an in-depth character study by any means. So we don't really get to know characters well enough to be saddened by their deaths. Even the two deaths that the most tragic weren't all that sad.
I thought the story of the Meisenheimer family and the immigrant experience in mid-western America was an interesting one and really did enjoy the book. Alex George is a good storyteller and that storytelling made me want to keep reading. Overall, I give this book a thumbs-up and recommend it!
Have you read A Good American?
Have a great weekend!