I had never read any of Billie Letts’ novels before, though I understand that one of her previous novels, Where the Heart Is, was an Oprah’s Book Club Selection. Thus I had high hopes for Made in the U.S.A. Sadly, my hopes were dashed.
This is the story of two children whose father has left them in the care of his latest girlfriend to seek his fortune in Las Vegas. When Floy dies unexpectedly in the check-out line at Wal-Mart, Lutie and Fate are left on their own. Fearful of being placed in the South Dakota foster care system, 15 year old Lutie and 11 year old Fate take Floy’s old Pontiac, and as much of their possessions as they can, and leave for Las Vegas to find their father.
This is not a promising scenario. Although they reach Las Vegas, Lutie and Fate face one disaster after another. As they struggle, they are helped by an anonymous Good Samaritan, who does eventually rescue them.
While Fate is an intelligent and resourceful boy, Lutie is stubborn, foolish, and nasty. It’s hard to feel too much sympathy for her. I really can’t recommend this book. It’s depressing, and the happy ending seems unrealistic.
Published in hardcover-Grand Central Publishing-2008
Softcover edition-Grand Central Publishing-2009