Reading a Newbery winner after the fact can be an interesting experience. You can either congratulate the Newbery committee on their splendid choice or wonder where they left their brains when they made their decision. If I had read this before the Newbery was announced, I probably would have liked it much better. I just had some serious favorites for the Newbery this year, that's all, and I still would have preferred that one of them had won. Oh, well.
When I read adult fiction, I prefer stories that have action. Where something happens. Not nonstop action like James Patterson, but too much atmosphere/characterization/etc doesn't interest me at all. This is probably why I'm drawn to historical fiction. Big characters, big events, big drama--that's my style. And A Good American delivers this, and then some. A young couple from Germany immigrates to New Orleans (they wanted to go to New York, but circumstances prevented them from doing so, and New Orleans couldn't be that different, no? Since it is also "new?") and then to a rural Missouri town, where they are caught up in the great sweeping events of the 20th and 21st from World War I to the post 9/11 era. I read a blurb that praised this as being "old-fashioned storytelling." That's quite right; it takes you on a terrific journey with wonderful and memorable characters. Historical fiction fans should definitely check it out, especially if you want a break from king, queens, and all kinds of dastardly lords and ladies (although I do hope that the expectations that the Downton Abbey craze will affect historical fiction come to pass; such a fascinating era, and one that hasn't been explored that much in British historical fiction).