While reluctantly accompanying her husband and daughter to freshman orientation at Indiana University, Nora Quillen hears someone call her name, a name she has not heard in more than 25 years. Not even her husband knows that back in the ‘60s she was Jane Barth, a student deeply involved in the antiwar movement. An American Tune moves back and forth in time, telling the story of Jane, a girl from a working-class family who fled town after she was complicit in a deadly bombing, and Nora, the woman she became, a wife and mother living a quiet life in northern Michigan. An achingly poignant account of a family crushed under the weight of suppressed truths, now available as a Break Away Book Club Edition, An American Tune illuminates the irrevocability of our choices and how those choices come to compose the tune of our lives.
Barbara Shoup has written a rich and timely story about one generation’s outrage and the long reverberations of secrets. Her plot has much to say about the tangle of responsibility and how an ill-advised war disrupts an intricate network of ordinary American lives. A striking and memorable novel warm, sage, and beautifully written.
novelist and National Book Award finalist for Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories
It's an ordinary day until a man calls your name, a man from the life you've tried your best to leave behind. Suddenly, anything can happen. Such is the case in Barbara Shoup's engaging new novel, An American Tune. A story that comes from the heartland and from the heart. I cared about these characters as if they were my own family members. What a moving story of what it is to long for the person you once were, set against the backdrop of political unrest both then and now.
author of The Bright Forever
The story of Jane and Nora—and what happens when these two lives converge—held me in great suspense. This highly readable novel isn’t afraid to talk liberal politics during wartime, nor is it afraid to tell an epic love story. I loved everything about Barb Shoup’s An American Tune.
author of The Circus in Winter
An American Tune kept me on the edge of my seat while at the same time wanting to savor the evocative, memorable and true sentences along with way. Barbara Shoup’s exasperating yet loveable characters felt so real that I longed to lure them into my kitchen for a cup of coffee so I could spend more time with them. Shoup brings the Sixties back to life with wry humor and sympathy, reminding us all the while that we have never left its shadow. A haunting, powerful book. I loved it.
author of The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady
[Shoup] is a wonderful writer with an amazing story to tell to those of us who have been fumbling along trying to gain perspective on a signal moment in our own history. Hers is the first account, in my opinion, that understands the combination of the extraordinary and the banal that characterized the antiwar movement, and yet she's never didactic. The extraordinary and the banal coexist in the seminal moments of any generation, of course, but to those of us who became adults during the Vietnam War years it is still surprising to remember over and over again how self-absorbed, how trivial we were while also making profound decisions.
Robb Forman Dew
author of the novels Dale Loves Sophie to Death
Barbara Shoup's An American Tune is an elegant, moving, finely written page-turner that reaffirms and makes fresh again Faulkner's assertion that the past is never dead; it's not even past.
author of Long Drive Home
An American Tune is about the '60s but it's about now, too. It's about a mother finding herself in her daughter, for better and for worse, and it's about generations of women forever realizing that even though we try our best to prevent them, our children were born to make their own mistakes. Nora will become your honest-to-God best friend because she reminds us of where we've been, what we're doing, and what we are looking for.
editor of Every Father's Daughter: Twenty-four Women Writers Remember Their Fathers
Shoup's novel is most compelling in its historical portrayal of university life in the turbulent 1960s . . .
Shoup vividly captures the excitement of a teenager's first few months on a college campus and also evokes the currents of counterculture eddying and surging through Indiana University in the mid-to late 1960s.
Some writers have a gift for creating cozy scenes and comfortable locales despite a larger context of unease and violence. In her new novel An American Tune, Barbara Shoup accomplishes this. . .
Fans of Jeffrey Eugenides or Tatiana de Rosnay will appreciate her ability to capture the spirit of a time and place while asking serious social questions. However politically minded, though, this poignant and stirring novel is at its root a moving and passionate love story.