BOOK REVIEW: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins


Publication Date: 
January 21, 2020
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Format: Kindle
Pages:  387 Pages
Genre:  Lit, Hispanic American 
Buy: Kindle | Audiobook


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? 


Omg, I can only attribute me not reading this before now to the title.  It just didn't appeal to me, but I had to read it for a book club and I am not disappointed.  What a ride right from the start. 

I never felt that a moment of the book was contrived or jumped the shark in fact the more I read the more I believed, held my breath, and prayed that when they jumped on the train they wouldn't fall off. I felt Lydia's terror, and anxiety as she raced across Mexico with her son trying to escape Narcos and in particular the head of the Narco group that she had once called a friend.  The people she meets along the way also seem very real and their plights I'm sure are the very accurate and sad.  

Lydia and Luca riding on the train tops reminded me of the movie Sin Nombre which I highly recommend! If you have a hard time picturing someone traveling in this manner find this movie and it will make Lydia and Luca's flight all the more terrifying and real.  

With immigration such a hot topic in the country right now this book really shines a light on so many different scenarios of why people flee their countries and why some wind up in the US as "illegal" immigrants.  

Brilliantly told I have fallen in love with this author and will be looking for her other books. 

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