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American Rust by Philipp Meyer
American Rust is set in a small Pennsylvania rust belt town where hope is in short supply and the best move often is to just move away. Isaac English is a smart but socially inept young man who wants to go off to college like his sister, but is hampered by having to take care of his disabled father. Isaac decides to leave town and make his way to California. He's joined by Billy Poe, a football star who passed up college scholarships. Billy regrets staying behind and Isaac and he set out on their adventure. An early encounter with homeless men turns violent and their lives are changed forever. Philipp Meyer's debut novel has received positive reviews with the New York Times saying, "There are awkward moments in this novel - like Isaac's pretentious penchant for thinking about himself in the third person - but these are fleeting lapses, steamrollered by Mr. Meyer's instinctive storytelling powers and his ability to create characters who evolve from familiar types into flesh-and-blood human beings. American Rust announces the arrival of a gifted new writer — a writer who understands how place and personality and circumstance can converge to create the perfect storm of tragedy."