Review: American Boy | Be Careful What You Wish For

American Boy (2011) by Larry Watson

My rating: 4 out of 5

Yet another time capsule, coming-of-age story by the masterful Larry Watson. (See my reviews of Montana 1948 and Justice.) Seventeen-year-old Matt Garth has found security and aspiration with the family of his best friend. By all appearances, the Dunbars are the happiest and most successful in Matt’s small town. Dr. Dunbar cultivates in Matt a passion for medicine and an appreciation for the respect and affluence that it garners.

A Thanksgiving Day shooting calls the doctor away and when the patient, a young woman named Louisa, is brought to the Dunbar home to recuperate, the lives of all involved are forever changed. The story centers on Matt, whose obsession with Louisa delivers him to an unexpected conflict that peels back the facade of his comfortable existence with the Dunbars, shattering his world.

Author Larry Watson transports the reader to another time and place with his usual graceful style and economy of pages, populating Willow Falls, Minnesota, circa 1962, with characters that are heartbreaking, complex, and genuine.

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