American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
Flatiron Books (January 21, 2020)
Hispanic American Literature/Women’s Crime Fiction
Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.
Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.
Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?
American Dirt will leave readers utterly changed. It is a literary achievement filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page. It is one of the most important books for our times.
Already being hailed as “a Grapes of Wrath for our times” and “a new American classic,” Jeanine Cummins’s American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.
Running for their lives
American Dirt is a page turner I couldn’t read fast enough. It has opened my eyes to the struggle’s migrants face trying to escape their own horror and the near impossible-ness of entering the US. The plot is important, the characters varied, the violence carries over the pages. The writing is powerful. In order to save herself and her young son, Lydia has no other choice but to flee. The cartel is after them. They won’t live if they stay. The journey the characters take stay with you, their struggles, their bravery, their fear, and their hope. It’s a tense on-the-road journey to escape the drug cartel.
Reviewed by Comfy Chair Books/Lisa Reigel (February 11, 2021)
Book Club pick for February
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeanine Cummins is the author of four books: the bestselling memoir A Rip in Heaven, and the novels The Outside Boy, The Crooked Branch, and American Dirt. She lives in New York with her husband and two children.
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