The Plot Against America by Philip Roth really disturbed and intrigued me…up until the ending. This alternative history proposes that the anti-Semitic Charles Lindbergh beat FDR in the 1940 election to become President of the United States. What happens to the Jewish population of the USA, and do we fight against Hitler and the Nazis?
The story answers these bigger questions by following the more intimate existence of the Roth family in Newark, NJ. We meet the narrator, Philip Roth, when he is 7 years old. The portrayals of his family, his childhood fears and adventures, and history unfolding in their insulated community are all marvelous. Roth borrows from the history of his actual family, down to their names, which scared me even more. Because I cared so much for the Roths, I was terrified for them with every new development. But the book almost completely went off the rails for me in the last chapter or two, and I didn’t like the ending. It was tidy and a little too abrupt. I didn’t think Roth finished with the same impact he’d built up through the rest of the book, but up until then I was absorbed.
And now, I have officially read all the One Book NJ 2008 titles.