“American Rust” by Philipp Meyer is a splendid book. (Friendship, again, is what grabbed me) It tells the tale of Isaac, a gifted young man who is taking care of his father while yearning for something else, Poe, a former highschool football star, lost in a dying town, Grace, Poe’s mother, hopeless and lonely, and Harris, the local lawman, who is in love with Grace.
Set in Buell Pennsylvania, a town once booming with factories and businesses, now a shell of it’s former self, there is not much hope to be found. When Isaac decides to go to California, he wants Poe to go with him. Poe feels he needs to stay and care for his mother, but agrees to walk a ways with him. A rainstorm drives the two boys into an abandoned factory, where events occur that will change both of their lives forever. When Isaac runs, Poe stays, only to be arrested and charged with a terrible crime. Both boys can talk themselves into believing anything and I found it easy to go right along with them into lies and silence. While some may not find it as easy, it is a terrific story, full of characters that you will care about. You may not agree with their choices, but you will find them compelling.