Philipp Meyer || American Rust

Be warned, American Rust is not exactly an uplifting novel. Two young men who do their utmost to have their lives fail, parents who have already managed to do that just fine, a sister who has married for money in order to provide for her disabled father, a mother who cannot resist the good for nothing whilst not appreciating the good guy and to top it all, an area that used to prosper because of its heavy industry falling into decline for lack of investment and innovation. It is a grim picture we are given in American Rust. The friendship between Poe and Isaac, the honour between them being the only hopeful thing. Poe is a talented baseball player, Isaac a potentially brilliant mathematician. Both have failed to secure a place at university for whatever reason: fear, not wanting to leave home, not being ready … They have got stuck in Pennsylvania where heavy industry is rapidly being replaced by drugs, crime and poverty. Meyer takes us along in their twisted search for a way out and confronts us with their setbacks and their thoughts. Both being fairly straightforward types Meyer uses short sentences and little to no decorative language. American Rust is as stark as its content; style and content work together in a superb way.
As said before, American Rust will not make you feel cheerful. Only at the end can we start hoping that some good will turn up for Poe and Isaac. Both have gone through a lot by then, there are still no guarantees for their American Dream finally coming true. In their area, however beautiful, there are no jobs. Someone like Poe can only get out with a sports scholarship, someone like Isaac – too clever for his surroundings – needs to leave and study among his equals (both intellectually as in all probability autistic). Both boys were in desperate need of parental support, that failing they start to fail as well. American Rust hurts, it makes you angry at the way life treats some people. It also makes you angry at two boys being too stupid , too pig-headed to understand that they themselves are the one answer to change. It would be too easy to simply blame parents and surroundings. At the end Isaac and Poe are given a second chance. Whether they’ll take it is as good your guess as mine. Isaac and Poe are not only the victims of circumstance, they are also boys with a tendency to seek fault for their failure in the world surrounding them. It will be upon them to make the right choice this time. American Rust is sad and beautiful, offering the slightest shiver of hope at the end. I loved it.

American Rust


About booksandliliane

I am an avid reader and love to share my love for literature. I have my own opinion on books that have been shortlisted, laureated by critics or are pushed on us by bookstores. I will try and explain why I like or do not like a book. Hopefully influencing you in your choice of books to read.
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