Frederick and Henriette, or Jette as she is known, fall in love. Unfortunately, Jette’s mother does not think they make a good match. When Jette becomes pregnant, Jette convinces Frederick that they must move…across the ocean to America. Frederick does not want to leave his home, but admits that it is the only thing that can be done.
And so in 1904, Frederick and Jette Meisenheimer arrive in Beatrice, Missouri, after a long series of traveling mishaps. Their son, Joseph, is born minutes after their arrival.
It is Frederick who embraces their new country more so than Jette, and the story of their family is just beginning. Frederick finds work at a bar in town and eventually earns enough money to buy the business. He becomes “a good American.” Throughout the book, the restaurant needs to adapt to stay open; the restaurant serves sauerkraut in the beginning, transforms to a cheeseburger joint, and finally serves Mexican. Just as the restaurant adapts to changing times, the family must adapt to new relationships and betrayals, triumphs and tragedies, life and death.
A Good American is a well-told tale of an immigrant family; I was drawn into the book right away and was riveted by the story until the very end.
I was a little disappointed, however, in the “German” history of the book. My ancestors were German immigrants, and I found it hard to believe that a German family settled in Missouri and didn’t even consider joining the Lutheran church in town. After all, the heart of the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church is in St. Louis, just down the river from the fictional town of Beatrice. Religion does play an important part in this book, but it is through a different church.
Apart from that opinion, I think that A Good American is a good read.
Join the BlogHer Book Club conversation about A Good American here–Reading Now: A Good American
Disclosure: This is a paid book review for BlogHer Book Club; however, all opinions are my own.