By page three of A Good American, by Alex George, I was as smitten with the main characters as they were with each other; Jette, a tall and robust woman, and Frederick with his chaotic red beard. If you’ve seen pictures of my husband and me you’d know why I identified with these two physical misfits. This epic telling of their lives and those of their children will break your heart, make you smile, and leave you staring at the page in wonder.
George retells the story of the Meisenheimer family through the eyes of Jette and Frederick’s grandson, James; their trip across the ocean, up the Mississippi and finally to their unintended residency in Beatrice, Missouri where they carve out a new life, an American life, for themselves. Two themes play heavily throughout the book, music and food. When current events intrude upon their idyllic and humble household it is those two, twentieth-century staples that get them through.
Kind of a spoiler alert: This verse James uses to describe his Grandmother’s life really struck a nerve with me.
My grandmother’s life had been one long opera. There had been drama, heroes, villains, improbably plot twists, all that. But most of all there had been love, great big waves of it, crashing ceaselessly against the rocks of life, bearing us all back to grace.
A Good American isn’t the type of story that leaves you on the edge of your seat. It’s the story of any American family, the highs and the lows, the betrayals and the secrets, and immeasurable love crammed into every bit in between.
This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.