I was first attracted to American Rust when I read the author Phillipp Meyer had been an EMT like myself. He followed that with a number of other jobs which apparently gave him the impetus to tell a story about real life, family loyalty, tragedies like no one else. (Well, others do but Phillip Meyer stands out as outstanding.)
I was anxious for the printed copy to come out but managed to find an audiobook version, instead. Narrated by Tom Stechschulte, the story starts out in an economically distressed steel town of Buell, Pennsylvania. With the steel industry having seen better days and slipped into more like a rust-ravaged area, we meet Isaac among many other characters. Isaac is an above average young man, high IQ, high SAT scores, football scholarship, but he’s left to take care of his widower father while his sister went to Yale, married into comfort and left Isaac wondering why. Why wasn’t he headed to Berkley, his dream of getting out of this depressed area?
He talks his best friend Billy Poe into leaving with him. Billy is half-hearted in this venture but humors Isaac, who is intent after stealing his father’s savings. Billy also rekindles his interest in Isaac’s sister when she returns for a guilt ridden visit. But they do trek out only to meet tragedy when they are accosted by derelicts while escaping a sudden deluge of rain in an empty building on the outskirts of town. In trying to escape, they kill one of the derelicts.
Instead of reporting it to their local police chief, who is enamored with Billy’s mother, they flee the scene…leaving a jacket behind. Billy is caught and jailed, refusing to cooperate despite the police chief’s suspicions he didn’t kill with malice aforethought.
Isaac escapes on a long hard journey to Berkley, California. Met with one disaster after another, robbed, constantly running from either the law or lawless, he is racked with guilt, tired, penniless. Billy is stuck in jail with a cruel cellmate. Vivien tries to get over him and back to her comfortable life, leaving the father afraid and depressed.
That’s just a few of the highlights. This story is so plausible, all you have to do is read the daily news, watch your local news stations at the tragedies that occur everywhere to understand this story is being unfolded in one way or another. That’s what riveted me to this story, the realities of life, fiction or not. This is one of the books that I enjoyed so much I only allowed myself to listen to no more than an hour at a time of the 13 plus hour audio book to prolong the enjoyment. I’m sure if I read a printed copy the same would be chapter by chapter. I can’t recommend this book enough in whatever format. I’m now anxious to follow up with Phillip Meyer’s next book, “The Son.”
WHAT TO READ NEXT:
Check out our list of the Best Books to Read in 2017.