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Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99…
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Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99 Percent

by Peter Van Buren

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I received this book from Netgalley for an honest review.

This is a depressing book. I grew up in Ohio, and while I never experienced what was related in this book, I see it in small towns not just in Ohio, but across the country. Officially, our government says we are seeing marked improvement in all sectors of the economy, but they aren't revealing the truth: the poor and lower middle class are no longer hanging on, and rest of us are barely scraping by.
Obviously, the title is an ode to the Grapes of Wrath, one of the greatest, and saddest, books written. The Ghosts of Tom Joad captures well the people's futility and desperation just like the Joad family heading from Oklahoma to California.
Not sure who I would recommend this book to, not because it was poorly written (it wasn't), but because of the shear depression-causing ability of the subject matter. ( )
  ssimon2000 | Jul 17, 2014 |
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A story about growth, failure, and redemption, Ghosts of Tom Joad traces the rise of the working poor and the don't-have-to-work-rich as it follows the fortunes of the protagonist Earl. A product of the post Korean War era, Earl witnesses his parents' kitchen table arguments over money, echoed in thousands of other Rust Belt towns, experiences bullying, relishes first kisses, and comes of age and matures as a man before the economic hardships of the 1980s and 1990s wear on his spirit. Earl takes his turn at a variety of low-paying retail jobs in the new economy before becoming mired in homelessness and succumbing to meth, alcohol, and destitution. As he takes a final, metaphorical bus ride, Earl reflects on his past, considering the impact of the war on his father and, subsequently, on himself -his own demise, and the romance between himself and Angel, which ultimately redeems him. This is a tale about the death of manufacturing, the deindustrialization of America, and a way of life that has been irrevocably lost. Anyone interested in the impact of political and business policy on the American Dream will be drawn to this profound, humorous, and moving novel.… (more)

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