A Good American

By Alex George
(Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, Hardcover, 9780399157592, 400pp.)

Publication Date: February 7, 2012

List Price: $25.95*
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the February 2012 Indie Next List
“In these crazy, sad times, when fear and greed seem to be defining our responses, it was wonderful to be reminded of the irreplaceable role immigration has played in making our country great and of the various ways of being 'a good American.' Frederick and Jette flee Prussia in 1904 and make their new home in Missouri. Their story is told by their grandson, James, and like the best family stories, is filled with the coincidences, missed connections, and both the tragedy and magic of ordinary life. George breaks your heart with the quiet sacrifices and secrets of his characters but never forgets the wonder and humor of living. Carrying the reader across the generations with music and food, religion and prohibition, racism and patriotism, A Good American makes this unique family's story seem familiar in the best of ways.”
-- Leslie Reiner, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL


Description

"A beautifully written novel, laced with history and music." --Emily St. John Mandel, author of "Station Eleven"
An uplifting novel about the families we create and the places we call home.

It is 1904. When Frederick and Jette must flee her disapproving mother, where better to go than America, the land of the new? Originally set to board a boat to New York, at the last minute, they take one destined for New Orleans instead (""What's the difference? They're both new""), and later find themselves, more by chance than by design, in the small town of Beatrice, Missouri. Not speaking a word of English, they embark on their new life together.

Beatrice is populated with unforgettable characters: a jazz trumpeter from the Big Easy who cooks a mean gumbo, a teenage boy trapped in the body of a giant, a pretty schoolteacher who helps the young men in town learn about a lot more than just music, a minister who believes he has witnessed the Second Coming of Christ, and a malevolent, bicycle-riding dwarf.

"A Good American" is narrated by Frederick and Jette's grandson, James, who, in telling his ancestors' story, comes to realize he doesn't know his own story at all. From bare-knuckle prizefighting and Prohibition to sweet barbershop harmonies, the Kennedy assassination, and beyond, James's family is caught up in the sweep of history. Each new generation discovers afresh what it means to be an American. And, in the process, Frederick and Jette's progeny sometimes discover more about themselves than they had bargained for.

Poignant, funny, and heartbreaking, "A Good American" is a novel about being an outsider-in your country, in your hometown, and sometimes even in your own family. It is a universal story about our search for home.




About the Author

Alex George is an Englishman who lives, works, and writes Missouri. He studied law at Oxford University and worked for eight years as a corporate lawyer in London and Paris before moving to the United States in 2003. To learn more about Alex George, please visit www.alexgeorgebooks.com.

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