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Format: ePub from Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Hailed by the New York Times as coming “closer than anyone to writing The Great American Novel,” Lore Segal stuns with this passionate love story of a refugee from Hitler’s Europe and a witty, hard-drinking black intellectual
For Ilka Weissnix, everything is new. Having recently arrived in the United States, she is determined to escape the immigrant communities of New York and boards a train headed west to discover “the real America.” She finds Carter Bayoux “sitting on a stool in a bar in the desert, across from the railroad.”
Older, portly, experienced, and black, Carter is magnetic. To Ilka, he exemplifies the values and cultures of a changing America. In order to understand her new country and her new love, Ilka throws herself into Carter’s dizzying world, nurses him through his bouts of depression and his alcoholism, and becomes fascinated by stories of his amorous past. But Carter’s ghosts are ever present, and soon Ilka finds herself torn between saving him and saving her own future.
With a foreword by Stanley Crouch, Her First American is the poignant story of an immigrant experience in a country of endless possibilities and of a rich and breathtaking love that is doomed from the start.
How It Made Me Feel: I haven't read a book in a while that really made me think as I read. Her First American is very different from the books I've been reading lately and I really enjoyed it! It was a completely different take on Historical Fiction for me and I felt like it opened up a completely new door in books. The story is written from Ilka's point of view, a point of view from a Viennese woman learning English and being in New York for the first time in her life. Lately, whenever I've read a historical fiction book, it's been written by an American author. This book was different. I loved the feel of the book as I continued reading, I enjoyed the conversations between characters, I loved hearing about the history, and I liked how Ilka grew through out the story. It was a story that dealt with racism, depression, knowledge, alcoholism, post war situations, and foreign characters. A great combination to say the least.
What I Thought Worked:
One of my favorite parts was reading through Ilka's slow learning of the English language. Reading that she had to go find a 'real American' was sort of a different take on post WWII America. I rather loved that conversations Ilka would have in the book were true to type, seeing how someone who has spoken a language other than English as their first, would start to learn and have to struggle sometimes when hearing native English speakers.
What I Thought Didn't Work:
There were times, where I wasn't able to follow Carter's thought process or ideas. His character was a big all over the place and so very eccentric. But the further I read into the book, the easier I found to understand his character.
Why It Got That Rating:
It was a take on post WWII America that I had never taken into consideration. Reading this book opened my eyes and I found something I would have never appreciated before. I enjoyed the reaction I had after finishing the book and I hope that other people can find the same thing.
Who Would I Recommend To:
I would recommend to anyone who enjoys reading about Post WWII America, unconventional romances, and foreigners making their way in the United States.
Things We Should Talk About
Have you ever read a book that gave you a completely different outlook on a favorite genre? If so, what was it?
Have you ever had to learn a second language by complete immersion?
Have you, or anyone you know, suffered from a debilitating disease like Alcoholism or Depression?