Every now and then a book pops into your life at just the right moment.
I finished “1Q84″ for a book club a few weeks ago, and I hated every bit of it. (For a lot of reasons, but this post isn’t about that book.) I thought about picking up an old favorite next to cleanse the palate, so to speak, but I had other business to tend to first. I’d agreed to read Alex George’s “A Good American” for the BlogHer Book Club, and it arrived a few days before I finished “1Q84.” All I knew about it was from the few lines I’d read in the initial email from BlogHer –
“Everything he’d seen had been unimaginably different from the dry, dour streets of home, 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.”
– but I was hopeful. My brother and I spent a good part of the 2012 holiday season obsessively tracking branches of our family tree on Ancestry.com and musing about what had prompted our ancestors to leave their homes and come to America, so I was primed for a good immigration story.
“A Good American” is just that. The story follows Frederick Meisenheimer — he of the “rapturous love affair with America” — from his “meet-cute” with his wife-to-be in Germany to the legacy their family leaves in small-town Missouri, and it’s written in a clear, straightforward manner befitting of its setting. (Not to say that Missouri doesn’t have its moments, but there’s a reason it’s not called the Showy State.) We lived in Columbia, Mo., for five years, and I have great memories from that time. I’m sure that connection influenced how much I liked the book, but I would’ve enjoyed it even if it had been set elsewhere.
I carried “A Good American” around in my purse, anxious for an opportunity to keep reading. I read it courtside during Pete’s basketball practice. I read it while I waited for the water to boil and while I stirred the macaroni. I stayed up far past my bedtime reading it, and there were tears in my eyes when I finished it.
It’s an enchanting, heartbreaking book, and it was just what I needed. I may not have known it when “A Good American” arrived at my house, but it turns out that I did pick up an old favorite to cleanse the palate after all.
Nichole was compensated for this review via the BlogHer Book Club, but all opinions expressed are solely her own.