An American Tune: A Novel [NOOK Book]


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 ...

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An American Tune: A Novel

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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, An American Tune illuminates the irrevocability of our choices and how those choices come to compose the tune of our lives.

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Editorial Reviews

"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." —Booklist
Foreword Reviews
"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..." —Foreword Reviews
Cathy Day
It was a pleasure to read this novel.Cathy Day, author of The Circus in Winter
Margaret McMullan
"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." —Margaret McMullan, author of In My Mother's House and When Warhol Was Still Alive
Joan Silber
"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." —Joan Silber, novelist and National Book Award finalist for Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories
Robb Forman Dew
"[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, The Time of Her Life, and Fortunate Lives, as well as a memoir, The Family Heart
Lee Martin
"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.

" —Lee Martin, author of Break the Skin and The Bright Forever

Will Allison
"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." —Will Allison, author of Long Drive Home
Elizabeth Stuckey-French
"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.

" —Elizabeth Stuckey-French, author of The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady

Bloom Magazine
"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." —Bloom Magazine
From the Publisher
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.

—Cathy Day, author of The Circus in Winter

Library Journal
Jane, from a working-class family, attends Indiana University in the mid-1960s. On her first day she is befriended by manic Bridget, who takes Jane's social life in hand. Through Bridget she meets Tom, who rapidly becomes the love of Jane's life. We see Bridget and Jane evolve in the narrative arc of the Sixties, as they transition from Villager outfits and drunken frat parties to ragged jeans and antiwar demonstrations. Bridget joins an SDS-like group and involves Jane in a deadly campus bombing. Jane is forced to go underground, and with a new identity and name, Jane—now Nora—settles in northern Michigan, marries and has a daughter. She manages to keep her past buried for years until her daughter enrolls in Indiana University. VERDICT Shoup's novel is most compelling in its historical portrayal of university life in the turbulent 1960s; ultimately, though, this is a romance novel, where relationships are a little too perfect and decades-long deceptions are resolved through love.—Reba Leiding, James Madison Univ. Libs., Harrisonburg, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253007544
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2012
  • Series: Break Away Books
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 328
  • Sales rank: 1,357,409
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Barbara Shoup is author of six novels and co-author of two books about the creative process. Her short fiction, poetry, essays, and interviews have appeared in The Writer and the New York Times travel section and her young adult novels, Wish You Were Here and Stranded in Harmony, were selected as American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults.

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