As part of our Best Books of 2012 coverage, our editors weigh in on some of their personal favorites from the list.
It may sound obvious, but A Good American is a quintessentially American story: A man and woman come to this country from Germany in 1904. They don’t know the language, they don’t know where they’re going, they don’t know what their future holds. But they have the courage to get on a boat and set sail. It’s a terrifying idea, when you really think about it. Debut novelist Alex George takes us on this journey, then explores what happens after that couple couple settles in Beatrice, Missouri. This is a story about family, about love of music and about making a place your own in 20th-century America. Our ancestors lived this story, in some form or another, and George pays loving tribute to those who came before. (And if you are an immigrant, as George is himself? Perhaps you’ll recognize the hope, sadness, fear and sense of adventure that comes with settling in an all new place, looking for opportunity.) A Good American is a celebration of our country’s melting pot and a joy to read.