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Made in the U.S.A

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  4,694 ratings  ·  715 reviews
The bestselling author of WHERE THE HEART IS returns with a heartrending tale of two children in search of a place to call home. Lutie McFee's history has taught her to avoid people, to places, and to almost everything. With her mother long dead and her father long gone to find his fortune in Las Vegas, 15-year-old Lutie lives in the god-forsaken town of S ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published June 19th 2008 by Warner (first published June 19th 2005)
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When I really like a book, I tend to read everything by that author, with mixed results. (John Irving, usually great. Augusten Burroughs, not so much so.) I loved The Honk and Holler Opening Soon, and liked Where the Heart Is. But Made in the USA was a disappointment, with an extremely unlikeable main character and an implausible (given the characters' previous behaviors) and rushed ending.
This book hooked me from the first page. I had to keep reading to make sure everything turned out well for the two orphaned kids! The brother and sister, Lutie (15) and Fate (11), have seen their fair share of misery in their short lives. The book begins when their caretaker, who is the ex-girlfriend of their father, dies in WalMart of a heart attack and the children take her car rather than be put into foster care. First problem, Lutie is only 15, doesn't have her driver's license, and really d ...more
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Michele Drummond
I've only read one other book by Letts and it was Where the Heart Is. Unfortunately, the two are extremely similar. It was a quick, enjoyable read for the summer. It only took me two days to finish it. It was one of those stories where the main character keeps acting the way you don't want them to. Sometimes it's hard to root for this character when time and again they fail. I guess without these flaws there wouldn't be a story-line. However, I wish the viewpoint of the book was written by the 1 ...more
I have loved every Billie Letts books I've read. I enjoy her sons plays just as much and am very glad she passed the writing "bug" on with her genes. This books, while told in the charming Letts way, left me unsatisfied.

The story opens with the death of 15 year old Lutie and 11 year old Fate's stepmother in a Wal-Mart. She's their stepmother in the broadest sense of the term since she has never married their father who left them with her and hasn't been heard from since. Fearing the foster syste
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Made in the U.S.A. by Billie Letts kept me up past my bedtime, which is a good indication for me of how good a book is. Lutie and her brother Fale pulled at my heartstrings with their tragic story of loss, sacrifice, and truly tough times. 11 year old Fale was my favorite character in this book. His quirky love of learning facts about everything under the sun made me laugh. Even though he is younger than his sister
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I'll never forget Letts' first novel: "Where The Heart Is" and I doubt there are many people out there who haven't read it and fell in love with the characters. Well, Billie has returned with a heart tugging saga of two young children in search of a father and a place to call home.

Fifteen-year-old Lutie McFee and her twelve-year-old brother Fate, have been living with overweight 300 hundred pound Floy Satterfield, their father's ex-girlfriend, in her dumpy run-down home in the dead beat town of
Fifteen-year-old Lutie McFee and her eleven-year-old brother Fate have been raised by their father's 300-pound ex-girlfriend, Floy, ever since they were abandoned by him. In a split second, however, this changes when Floy drops dead in the local Wal-Mart. When presented with the option of ending up with social services, Lutie and Fate pack up and escape in Floy's truck in search of their father. Their destination: Las Vegas.

Once in Vegas, Lutie and Fate struggle to make ends meet and begin to lo
Ms. Letts is a master at telling stories that will have you laughing out loud one minute and have your heart breaking the next. Filled with vivid descriptions and realistic characters, this book runs the gamut from sadness and horrific situations to hope, redemption and acceptance. Even though I found this hard to read at times, MADE IN THE U.S.A. is a wonderful story that touched my heart.


First off I was expecting southern fiction, which this wasn’t and it was much grittier than I expected it to be.
Lutie is not a very likeable character and it doesn’t get any better as things progress. Her brother Fate makes this book, he is precocious and adorable, wise beyond his years yet sweet and optimistic. I also liked the Vargas Family storyline.

This book is about two young children whose mother is dead their father has left them with a girlfriend who dies in Walmart (no spoilers its righ
How do I rate a book that I could not finish simply because the author dared to make me care so much for her characters that I couldn't bear to "watch" any more creulties befall them? How does one go about rating a book by an author who has proven her value to me with past works that have left me with a warm and feel good ending? Is it fair to rate a book I could not complete simply because I could not handle the dark subject matter? No, it isn't fair to give this one a rating at all.

Books I can
I had a very hard time deciding whether to give this book two or three stars, but the farther I get away from this book, the more I realize how dreadful it was.

I haven't read _The Honk & Holler Opening Soon_, but I've read all her others, and I really wish Billie Letts had stopped with _Where the Heart Is_. I loved that book and I still think it's an amazing read. Now Letts has reduced herself to sterotypical characters, incredibly predictable plots, and a storyline formula. Instead of a bi
Aug 19, 2011 Angie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Diane
Shelves: fiction
Audio book -
Two discs in I thought to myself , " Oh Jesus ! This is going to be one of those books ! " Those equals the author has taken it upon themself to prove that Murphy's Law really does happen . Those equals the author has written about the most wronged , accident prone , bad lucked, somebody keeps shitting in their lunchbox character/s and the worst case scenarios for said character/s . THOSE equals I think to myself , " Oh Jesus ! This is going to be one of those books ! " , right bef
Jul 10, 2010 Alice rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of dark and gritty stories of redemption
Shelves: library, audio, 2010, literary
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I really like Billie Letts' books. They're not great literature, just fun to read if you want something light. She also wrote Where the Heart Is and The Honk and Holler Opening Soon, both fun reads.

This one follows a brother and sister, Fate (whose name was supposed to be Fale, after his grandfather, but the person writing out his birth certificate crossed the l) and Lutie McFee, 11 and 15 respectively. They leave South Dakota suddenly when their father's girlfriend, Floy, with whom they've been
I liked this one...I liked these two wounded kids...Lutie and Fate (he should have been named Fale, after their mother's family, but someone at the hospital crossed the "L") are essentially dumped with an ex-girlfriend of their father when he decides to run away to Las Vegas. After another Letts Walmart moment, they find themselves on the run, afraid if they stay in Spearfish SD, they'll be sent to foster care. A road trip to Las Vegas has moments of humor and terror.

As does their stay in Las Ve
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Andrew Trimboli
You can tell by this author's headshot that someone like her is in no way qualified to convincingly write about the true Las vegas underbelly and this isn't helped by her acknowledgements to "so and so at the whatever body art parlour for helping me understand what the fuck a tattoo and/or piercing is to begin with". So, in one word - lame.

HOWEVER, for some reason I can't stop reading it. I think I feel sorry for the little boy and want to find out what happens to him. Well, given they're just a
Kelly Tarr
I was so glad that a friend on Goodreads rated this book (thanks Dana!) I really enjoyed it. So many emotions went into reading this book joy, sadness, empathy and hurt. It was very entertaining and hard to put down. Some of it was a bit out there but also with the job I do I have seen children hurting, lost and sad so I don't feel like it is that far from a possibility. Loved the characters , wished the main character was kinder to her brother the whole time but she didn't have any kind of posi ...more
Cindy Bokma
I loved it! An easy to read, fast paced, feel good kind of book with sweet characters and a happy ending. What more do you want from a novel? I was just in the mood for this kind of book and I read it within two days and was sorry to see it end.

I really enjoyed Where the Heart Is and I think Made in the USA has the same vibe.

Good job, Billie Letts!
I liked this book more than any of her others. Of course there are the requisite Walmart scenes showing up on the first pages but well, this the US and that store is a huge presence in many peoples's lives. I just had to keep reading to see how things turned out for these two kids with no safety net so I read it in a 24 hour period. I loved all the circus scenes and portrayal of the circus family as caring for their animals. A great read!
Aug 20, 2008 Angela rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of brit lit and historical fiction
Recommended to Angela by: originally a book club pick and i read all in the series
This was a good but very sad book. It was hard to read about some of the choices the girl made as well as the danger she and her brother put themselves into. I am glad I read this book because it was well written about a difficult subject.
It reminds me of an older, more dangerous version of From the Mixed Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankwalter by E.L. Konigsberg .
I loved this book!!! I've had this book for quite awhile and wish I had read this sooner. Great story about Lutie (who's 15 yrs old) and her brother Fate (who's 11 yrs old). The things these kids do to survive on the streets of Las Vegas are amazing. The story is heart-warming, drawing the reader in and not letting go. Wonderful book!
I liked this book, but not as much as some of Billie Letts other novels. I sort of found Luttie annoying, but it is a good coming of age story and about learning lessons the hard way. I did like the ending and the theme that just because you don't share blood doesn't not make you family.
I, too, found this darker than her previous books, but one cannot expect a writer to remain stagnant. I just want to know if the winter quarters in Hugo, OK, are the ones depicted in the book. I found that part of the book fascinating.
Bethany Zimp
I'm not sure how I missed this book by Billie Letts (author of 'Where the Heart Is') but I'm glad I found it. She again writes very well about homeless teens - thankfully not pregnant, but Walmart makes an appearance. Parts seemed truly authentic - even when trying to do everything right undocumented minors in Las Vegas are lead to destruction via their crappy circumstances. I also appreciated that she didn't make the lead character completely lovable. A 15 year old, ignorant orphaned girl, shou ...more
Barbie N
this book was painful to read--and I kept thinking--must have been painful to write. In a grimy Jane Eyresque way, as in the tale gets darker and sadder as you go, Letts realistically portrays what happens when two kids land in Las Vegas on their own. But for a mysterious guardian angel the story would have been unbearable. I love the Oklahoma ties, and especially the one in this book, because it is one of our great secrets. The writing is engaging and kept me going even though I began to dread ...more
The story was interesting enough, but it seemed to lack some depth and the ending did seem rushed. Overall good read.
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Billie Letts (born in Tulsa, Oklahoma) is an American author. Earlier she worked as a professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. She was married to Dennis Letts until his death in 2008, and is the mother of playwright and actor Tracy Letts and jazz musician and composer Shawn Letts.
More about Billie Letts...
Where the Heart Is The Honk and Holler Opening Soon Shoot the Moon Unadvertised Special You've Got Mail, Billie Letts

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