My New American Life by Francine Prose
Published by: HarperCollins
Published on: May 8, 2012 (reprint)
Page Count: 336
My Reading Format: ARC sent to me by the publisher for consideration
Available Formats: Hardcover, paperback, eBook, and Audiobook
Today it is my great pleasure to be Francine Prose’s host on her TLC Book Tour. This tour is to celebrate her novel, My New American Life.
I have a lot of fun working as a tour host for TLC Book Tours. They always have great books and authors on tour. Check out their website for more information on this tour and the others that they are hosting.
Summary from the Publisher
Lula, a twenty-six-year-old Albanian woman living surreptitiously in New York City on an expiring tourist visa, hopes to make a better life for herself in America. When she lands a job as caretaker to Zeke, a rebellious high school senior in suburban New Jersey, it seems that the security, comfort, and happiness of the American dream may finally be within reach. Her new boss, Mister Stanley, an idealistic college professor turned Wall Street executive, assumes that Lula is a destitute refugee of the Balkan wars. He enlists his childhood friend Don Settebello, a hotshot lawyer who prides himself on defending political underdogs, to straighten out Lula’s legal situation. In true American fashion, everyone gets what he wants and feels good about it.
But things take a more sinister turn when Lula’s Albanian “brothers” show up in a brand-new black Lexus SUV. Hoodie, Leather Jacket, and the Cute One remind her that all Albanians are family, but what they ask of her is no small favor. Lula’s new American life suddenly becomes more complicated as she struggles to find her footing as a stranger in a strange new land. Is it possible that her new American life is not so different from her old Albanian one?
Set in the aftermath of 9/11, My New American Life offers a vivid, darkly humorous, bitingly real portrait of a particular moment in history, when a nation’s dreams and ideals gave way to a culture of cynicism, lies, and fear. Beneath its high comic surface, the novel is a more serious consideration of immigration, of what it was like to live through the Bush-Cheney years, and of what it means to be an American.
When I first started reading My New American Life, Lula’s voice stood out. It was unique and I knew it would take some time for me to acclimate to it. It also made me interested to see where her story would lead. As I read, I found that her voice and the tentativeness of Lula’s life with Mr. Stanley kept me at an emotional distance from the story. I was often bemused by Lula and her way of thinking, but I never got to the point where I cared about her unintended involvement with her Albanian “brothers.” It all felt a little too unreal to take seriously. I just couldn’t get invested.
Francine Prose is an excellent writer. I read and enjoyed Goldengrove in 2009. That is why I was excited to take part in this tour. Unfortunately, My New American Life left me cold, not unlike those years in American history. I did find the portions of Lula’s Albanian history interesting, but it wasn’t enough to carry this novel. If you are considering reading Francine Prose, I would recommend picking up Goldengrove instead. This particular novel just wasn’t for me.
Francine Prose’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, May 15th: Book Club Classics!
Thursday, May 17th: Bookstack
Monday, May 21st: A Bookish Way of Life
Monday, May 28th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Tuesday, May 29th: Books and Movies
Wednesday, May 30th: Veronica M.D.
Tuesday, June 5th: Iwriteinbooks’s blog
Wednesday, June 6th: Reviews By Lola
Thursday, June 7th: I Read. Do you?
Monday, June 11th: My Bookshelf
Tuesday, June 12th: Chocolate & Croissants