Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Review: Made in the U.S.A. by Billie Letts

From the book jacket of Made in the U.S.A. by Billie Letts:

Lutie McFee's history has taught her to avoid attachments...to people, to places, and to almost everything. With her mother long dead and her father long gone to find his fortune in Las Vegas, 15-year-old Lutie lives in the god-forsaken town of Spearfish, South Dakota with her twelve-year-old brother, Fate, and Floy Satterfield, the 300-pound ex-girlfriend of her father. While Lutie shoplifts for kicks, Fate spends most of his time reading, watching weird TV shows and worrying about global warming and the endangerment of pandas.

As if their life is not dismal enough, one day, while shopping in their local Wal-Mart, Floy keels over and the two motherless kids are suddenly faced with the choice of becoming wards of the state or hightailing it out of town in Floy's old Pontiac. Choosing the latter, they head off to Las Vegas in search of a father who has no known address, no phone number and, clearly, no interest in the kids he left behind.

MADE IN THE U.S.A. is the alternately heartbreaking and life-affirming story of two gutsy children who must discover how cruel, unfair and frightening the world is before they come to a place they can finally call home.

Lutie and Fate - what names! These two love each other fiercely! When they get to Vegas they are both worrying and looking out for each other. Lutie wants to send Fate to a good school and Fate wants Lutie to be safe and happy. But living on the streets of Las Vegas makes both of those desires incredibly difficult to achieve!

As a mom, I just wanted to scoop these two up, bring them in the house and take care of them. I cried with them, worried over them, shook my head at their choices. There is an anonymous 'guardian angel' who adopts them when they first arrive in Vegas. It's interesting to see how he helps just by having experience living on the streets. Which you know means he has his own issues. So when we finally meet him, it's with trepidation, worry and wonder.

This is a great book. Excellent characters, interesting story and a quick read.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Side note: As I was reading it on vacation, my aunt and my cousin both made a comment that they had loved Bille Letts' previous book The Honk and Holler Opening Soon. I've added that to my tbr pile!


Allison said...

This one is on my TBR list..looked like a good book and from your review it must be!!

Ruth said...

I remember seeing this in a bookstore not too long ago, and being intrigued by the cover. I had forgotten the title, though, so I was glad to see your review!