A Good American {BlogHer Book Club}

A Good AmericanThe beginning is music. Singing opera arias is Frederick’s way of courting Henriette Furst in the city of Hanover, Germany.

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.


Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly {BlogHer Book Club}

As soon as I read the blurb on the book jacket, I knew I was going to enjoy reading Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown.

Based on twelve years of pioneering research, Dr. Brene Brown dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and argues that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage.

The full title of Brown’s book is Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. At the end of the book are two chapters specifically for leaders and parents. However, don’t be misled by the term “leaders.” In some area of your life, you are a leader. Brown writes that Chapter 6 is “for all of us–parents, teachers, community volunteers, and CEOs–anyone who is willing to dare greatly and lead.” I also think that Chapter 7, “Wholehearted Parenting: Daring to Be the Adults We Want Our Children to Be” is useful to more than just parents, but to anyone who is an important adult figure in a child’s life. And if you think this book is just for women, think again! Brown’s whole section on how men perceive shame and vulnerability was eye-opening for me. Even more eye-popping was the revelation that while women want men to be vulnerable and open, when men actually ARE vulnerable, their vulnerability makes women uncomfortable! What a catch 22!

As I read through this book, I underlined and dog-eared so many phrases and pages that spoke to me. Not only does Brown use her research to back up her writing, she uses personal stories, which in turn makes her vulnerable. She not only advocates us to be vulnerable, she practices what she preaches. She writes, “My kitchen-table self is too messy, too imperfect, too unpredictable.” And then she goes on to tell us all about her kitchen-table self. Reading Daring Greatly is like sitting at the kitchen table with your best friend and chatting over a cup of coffee. It’s an honest read that warms your soul, dares you to cast aside the myth that being vulnerable is being weak, and to know that yes, you are enough.

Join the Daring Greatly discussion at BlogHer Book Club!

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.