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A story about growth, failure, and redemption, Ghosts of Tom Joad traces the rise of the working poor and the donât-have-to-work-rich as it follows the fortunes of the protagonist Earl. A product of the postâKorean War era, Earl witnesses his parentsâ kitchen table arguments over moneyâechoed in thousands of other Rust Belt townsâexperiences 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 fatherâand, subsequently, on himselfâhis 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.
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