MADE IN THE U.S.A. is an interesting character driven tale that argues it takes a village to raise children. Readers will feel for the McFee sibs, who are neglected while their guardian lived and after she dies.These two children make dangerous decisions out of fear. What happens to Lutie in Vegas shows the real sinful underbelly of the city, Fate is faced with things no child should have to see. Billie Letts brings us face to face with what family really can be and some of the hard roads we travel to get there.
In Spearfish, South Dakota, with their mother long dead, the McFee siblings teenage Lutie and her younger brother Fate live with three hundred pound Floy Satterfield; their runaway father’s former girlfriend. However, their lives take a spin when their guardian drops dead at the local Wal Mart. Lutie, who began shoplifting when she was booted from the high school gymnastics team due to unfair influences, persuades her eleven year old brother to give up the TV shows and global warming because they have two choices: flee in Floy’s ancient car or allow the state to place them. They decide to find their estranged dad whose last known address is Las Vegas in some dive hotel.
In Las Vegas, they begin to learn nasty truths. Their father cannot be found. Fifteen year old Lutie obtains fake working papers and dead-end jobs so she and her brother have food and shelter of sorts. However, Luties choices seem to be taking them straight to the street sharks which include child molesters, rapists, drug addicts and other abusers. While Lutie heads down a terrifying trail Fate is spending his days in the public library. Where he learns there is someone watching out for them;former aerialist Juan Vargas “adopts” the pair as his redemption and takes them to his family in Oklahoma where they run the Vargas Brothers Circus. Juan carries guilt, but his grandma has love for all three that might help each find sanctuary if they reach out to her and one another.