An American Dreamer: Life in a Divided Country

Random. Feb. 2024. 256p. ISBN 9780593597064. $32. BIOG
Pulitzer-winning journalist Finkel (Thank You for Your Service) aptly showcases political divisions in the United States via this nuanced account of four years (2016–20) in the life of Iraq War veteran and Georgia resident Brent Cummings, whom Finkel has followed for 15 years. Readers come to know Brent, his wife Laura, and their neighbor Michael, and the varied opinions of all three about the nation’s future. Brent, who has PTSD and is nearing retirement after 28 years in the army, is offended by the politics of Donald Trump and wishes that good would prevail in the world. Laura juggles caregiving for their daughter, who has Down syndrome, and for her mother. Michael, a MAGA enthusiast with paralysis in both of his arms and legs, is full of fear about the deep state. The book’s compassionate depictions of Brent, Laura, and Michael are so well-drawn that it reads like a novel, but the profiles are real and empathetic.
VERDICT A beautifully rendered, sensitively told story about a veteran who returns home to a nation where many things are changing or already altered forever. A good choice for public libraries.
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