A Good American
By Alex George
Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, $25.95
In 1904, Frederick and Jette flee Jette’s disapproving mother and decide to go America. They are set to board a boat to New York, and at the last minute, they take one destined for New Orleans instead, and later find themselves in the small town of Beatrice, Missouri. Not speaking a word of English, they embark on their new life together. 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 prizefighting and Prohibition to sweet barbershop harmonies, the Kennedy assassination, and beyond, James’ family is caught up in the sweep of history. Each new generation discovers what it means to be an American. And, in the process, Frederick and Jette’s children discover more about themselves than they had bargained for. This is a poignant story about being an outsider in your own country and about the search for home.
The Snow Child
By Eowyn Ivey
Reagan Arthur Books, $24.99
Jack and Mabel are a couple struggling to settle in the Alaskan wilderness in the 1920s. Childless, they are drifting apart—Jack is breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; Mabel is crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning, the snow child is gone, but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful place, things are rarely as they appear and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.
By Ayad Akhtar
Little, Brown and Company, $24.99
This is the story of Hayat Shah, a young Pakistani American in love for the first time. His parents don’t get along, and when his mother’s oldest friend from Pakistan, Mina, moves in, he is smitten. She is independent, beautiful, and intelligent, and arrives on the Shahs’ doorstep when her disastrous marriage in Pakistan disintegrates. Even Hayat’s skeptical father can’t deny the liveliness and happiness that accompanies Mina into their home. Her deep spirituality brings the family’s Muslim faith to life in a way that resonates with Hayat as nothing has before. As Hayat becomes more infatuated with Mina, he becomes confused by his feelings of betrayal when she begins dating another man. American Dervish is a brilliantly written and emotionally forceful look inside the interplay of religion and modern life. This is an intimate first novel that will stay with readers long after they turn the last page.
By William Landay
Delacorte Press, $26
Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than 20 years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next. His 14-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student. Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent and Andy believes him. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as his marriage crumbles and the trial intensifies, a crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son. Award-winning author William Landay has written a novel of an embattled family, a suspenseful character-driven mystery that is also a captivating tale of guilt, betrayal, and the speed at which our lives can spin out of control.
—Sue Boucher of Lake Forest Book Store, Lake Forest Book Store is located at 680 N. Western Avenue in Lake Forest.