Year 4, Book 49

49. American Rust by Philipp Meyer
I saw several good reviews of this book, plus the author is a local Baltimorean, so I decided to check it out. I thought the story might take place around Baltimore, but instead it is set in a small steel town outside of Pittsburgh. The story is told from the alternating perspective of several characters Isaac, his friend Poe, Isaac’s sister Lee, Poe’s mom Grace, Isaac’s dad, and the town police chief/Poe’s mom’s on and off boyfriend Harris. The story basically revolves around an incident involving Isaac and Poe that results in an accidental murder and how this affects all the aforementioned characters. There are also lots of undercurrents about the state all their lives have ended up in as a result of living in a dead-end former steel town that reminded me a lot of some of Richard Russo’s writings. I did enjoy reading the book, but the ending fell flat for me. I can’t explain why without telling you what the ending is, so I won’t. It’s still worth a read though if you enjoy character driven novels or novels based on the decline of manufacturing in small-town America like Russo’s. I give it a 6 out of 10.

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