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Extended Audio Sample A Good American, by Alex George Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,666 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Alex George Narrator: Gibson Frazier Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “There’s plenty of storytelling charm on display here, with echoes of John Irving’s humane zaniness.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “As epic as an opera, as intimate as a lullaby, A Good American swept me through an entire century of triumph and tragedy with the wonderful Meisenheimer family…Alex George has created that rare and beautiful thing—a novel I finished and immediately wanted to start again.”

    Eleanor Brown, New York Times bestselling author of The Weird Sisters

  • “A sweeping, lush intergenerational novel about a family…learning to live in twentieth-century America.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “This lush, epic tale of one family’s journey from immigrants to good Americans had me alternately laughing and crying, but always riveted. It’s a rich, rare treat of a book, and Alex George is a first-rate talent.”

    Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants and Ape House

  • “Richly drawn, tragic, yet laced with humor…Remarkable.”

    Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

  • “George has created an expansive yet intimate family saga in which he adroitly explores aspects of identity, loyalty, chance, and determination that define the immigrant experience.”


  • A 2012 BookPage Best Book
  • Selected for the February 2012 Indie Next List
  • A 2012 Library Journal Best Book

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Albert Rocheteau | 2/12/2014

    " A multi-generational story of an immigrant family in America. At times amusing and at times heartbreaking, but always enjoyable. Great charcters, great family drama and dysfunction. A really satisfying read! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Melissa Bergeman | 2/3/2014

    " Picked it up as a pass-the-time quick-read, but was quite surprised at how the characters and their story drew me in. Finished it in a day - quick-read, certainly, but not a throw-away. Wanted parts of it to slow down, especially as the pages left dwindled. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Meghan | 1/26/2014

    " The first third of this book - the story of two brave German immigrants and their early years in Missouri, with a New Orleans cook as their guide - was great. The writing is clear and direct; music flows through the story, tying together loose ends. But after a seminal character dies, I started to feel like the narrative went off the tracks, with vignettes that seemed increasingly disjointed and unrealistic. The final twist was out of left field, and I'm not sure it did anything to make the book richer. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Viccy | 1/24/2014

    " A family saga covering four generations beginning in 1904 when Frederick Meisenheimer and Jette Furste leave thier homeland and flee to New York, but end up in New Orleans and then up the Mississippi to Missouri, where Frederick hopes to find work. They sheer ordinariness of their lives is the hallmark of this book. We see the immigrant experience as the family traverses history: World War I; Prohibition; the Great Depression and World War II. Beatrice, MO is populated by unforgettable characters who serve as archetypes for the American experience. At its core, this is a novel about being an outsider and the universal search for home. "

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