A Good American

A Good American

Book - 2012
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"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.

Published: New York : Amy Einhorn Books, c2012.
ISBN: 9780399157592
Branch Call Number: F GEO
Characteristics: 387 p. ;,24 cm.


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Mar 30, 2019

An interesting look at German immigrants to America. This family story reminded me of my grandmother, strong, healthy and willing to tackle the obstacles faced to create a future for her children.

Jul 03, 2016

i really enjoyed the book but could done without some of the explicit scenes,great story telling over 4 generations

CMLibrary_GLoesch Jan 30, 2016

Fredrick’s opera singing in a park in Germany attracts Jette and thus begins their musical love affair. When Jette’s pregnancy is revealed, she becomes disowned by her parents, and the couple flees to America with dreams of a life, as "good Americans." The uplifting family saga has you laughing and crying in turn. Readers are immediately captivated by vivid characters and stark events of their boat crossing the Atlantic. This memorable multi-generational tale told through the eyes of their grandson, James, unfolds the ups and downs of an immigrant family’s life. Historical events from WWI, Prohibition and the Great Depression are entwined with family experiences and with the music of the times, from opera to barbershop quartet and the many cuisines in America.

Oct 19, 2013


mrsgail5756 Mar 18, 2013

A very good read. I enjoyed this book. I would recommend this book for all to read.

debwalker Feb 05, 2013

Pennie's (Costco) pick for February 2013

Jun 08, 2012

This book started out as a classic immigrant story that I really enjoyed, but over the last 1/2 to 1/3 of the book it peters out. The ending was artificial and felt like it was just thrown in at the last minute. It left me a little cold. Overall though, a nice quick read.

Apr 04, 2012

This book starts out well but the last 1/3rd seems to be a hodge podge until the unravelling at the end. It would be a quick cottage read.

EXCELLENT story! I miss my tme spent in Beatrice already. I highly recommend.

Mar 17, 2012

Quick read. Similar to "The Help" in style and some topics (same editor). The story of immigration will touch practically every American and spark us to tell our own stories. The reader doesn't get bogged down in historical detials, but is satisfied with the story of the characters. We are lucky to have such an author share this town with us!

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mrsgail5756 Mar 18, 2013

“Things may come to those who wait…but only the things left by those who hustle.” -Abraham Lincoln


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