Capital READ Program

The library is happy to announce our 2012 Capital READ choice :A Good American by Alex George.  We hope you will read the book and join us for the author event on November 1st at 7p.m. in the Art Gallery. 




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.

The library is currently looking for family stories of ancestors who immigrated to this area from Germany.  We are hoping to create a program in October where people can share these stories and photographs and perhaps read from letters or journals they may have.  If you have a story to share, please contact Claudia Schoonover at 634-6064 ext 245.  I am very excited about this project and eager to hear from you!

Alex George is an Englishman who lives, works, and writes in Columbia, Missouri. He studied law at Oxford University and worked for eight years as a corporate lawyer in London and Paris before moving to the United States in 2003. To learn more about Alex George, please visit