American Dirt

American Dirt

A Novel

Book - 2020
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Lydia Quixano Perez 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 four 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?
Publisher: New York : Flatiron Books, 2020.
Edition: First U.S. edition.
ISBN: 9781250209764
1250209765
9781250754080
1250754089
Characteristics: 386 pages ; 25 cm.

Opinion

From Library Staff

A literary thriller chronicling the migration of a mother and her young son. Under threat, Lydia and Luca leave their middle-class life in Acapulco and begin a traumatic journey to the border, evading cartels, thieves, corrupt police, and others forced into malevolent behavior by extreme violence... Read More »

"A literary thriller chronicling the
migration of a mother and her
young son. Under threat, Lydia and
Luca leave their middle-class life in
Acapulco and begin a traumatic
journey to the border, evading
cartels, thieves, corrupt police, and
others forced into malevolent
behavior by extreme vi... Read More »


From the critics


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c
celiawhite99
Mar 01, 2021

Great book! Compelling story about a Mex migrant and her son escaping the cartel to get to American soil.

h
hboening
Feb 24, 2021

This book is a roller coaster of emotions and really challenges you and makes you ask "what would you do if you were in Lydia's shoes?"

c
CarlaCS
Feb 17, 2021

No doubt, Cummins can write. American Dirt was a page-turner from front cover to the end. The story is tightly told; no wasted description, dialogue, or scenes. Its unfortunate---perhaps even a crime against literature---that the novel has been criticized because the author is not of "approved" heritage or color: how ridiculous is that? It is unforgiveable that in her post-script, the author bows down to those criticisms and tries to justify herself. Nonsense! The work stands on its own and should be judged on its own. It matters not who wrote it, where they are from, what color they are, what gender they are, or who their ancestors are. Judge the book. Judge. The. Book. Had I read her mea-not-really-sorta-culpa before I'd read the book, I likely would have been so disgusted I wouldn't have read the book.

One criticism I have of the book is the author's choice <spoiler alert> to have no one on the migrant trail be a person with criminal intentions (except those pursuing the heroine and her son). There are no drug dealers seeking new customers, there are no gang members seeking access to new territory in the US, there are no murderers seeking anonymity across the border---everyone is an innocent victim with only the most noble of intentions. And as anyone with experience in the field can tell you, that is quite simply not true...not the case. I don't think the author does this out of naivete; I think she does it out of political ideology. So be it. It's her book. But it takes away from the realism that she so desperately pretends to want to be portraying.

h
hoskerd
Feb 17, 2021

Recommended by Beth

f
feralranger
Feb 17, 2021

I was aware of the controversy surrounding this book before I read it but it is fiction and I read it on that level. If it were non-fiction I would expect it to be taken apart tooth and nail but it is an invented story based on 4 years of authors research. If I can relate to a character/s in any work of fiction than it doesn't matter to me what their gender or nationality is or whether they are even human. I'll follow their story to the end and if it is a good one I won't bother with the pedantic take that others may have formulated.
This is a good story. Is it the Grapes of Wrath for a generation? Uh, I won't go that far even if the book cover does.

p
posie12
Feb 16, 2021

I had just read "On The Plain of Snakes", so the story rings true. I still found it difficult to read. Maybe the fact that Mexico is still a third world country catering to the drug addicted North. Question : Why is Mexican Government so corrupt?

j
jbr722
Feb 14, 2021

I JUST FINISHED THIS BOOK AND FELT THE AUTHOR OF THIS BOOK DID A VERY GOOD JOB IN CREATING THE PEOPLE SHE PROTRATED IN THIS BOOK. IN READING THIS BOOK I CAN FEEL THE MIRGRANT FEARS AND HOW MUCH THEY RISK TO MAKE A BETTER LIFE FOR THEMSELVES HERE IN THE US. IT SHOWS YOU THE CRIME AND CARTELS THOUGHOUT ALL OF MEXICO.
THIS IS SOMETHING MOST AMERICANS REALLY DO NOT UNDERSTAND. THIS SHOULD BE
A MUST READ EVEN THOUGH THE PEOPLE ARE FICTIONAL I THINK THE AUTHOR DID SOME
RESEARCH TO HAVE INSIGHT INTO MEXICO AND THE CRIME AND CARTELS. SHE MADE
YOU FEEL THE STUGGLES OF THE INDIVIDAL MIGRANTS AND REASON FOR THE JOURNEY
NORTH TO AMERICA FOR A BETTER LIFE. I ENJOYED THIS BOOK VERY MUCH.

o
OPL_Cvana
Feb 09, 2021

What to do when you lose nearly everyone in your family? This is the dramatic story of a mother and child who flee for their own lives from Mexico to the United States. Their lives suddenly transformed from upper middle class to that of migrants seeking refuge -- what they encounter on their journey is both harrowing, and redeeming of humanity.

a
annagraceiaboni
Feb 07, 2021

Excellent read. Harrowing.

b
Bududo
Jan 31, 2021

This is a well written and evenly paced adventure story tracing the escape by a mother and her 8 year old boy from a murderous cartel in Acapulco Mexico and their trek to the illegal entry into the United States. The author is clearly conveying several messages that she never misses to press home: first is the plight of the Latino migrants that is driving them to cross over into the United States, second the variation of characters that defy stereotyping of the migrants, and third that women can be resourceful and resilient in the face of adversity. The author, however, works too hard to drive home the messages and in places forces dialogue that simply is not very credible and results in the overall narrative suffering.

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VaughanPLTiziana Oct 26, 2020

"Lydia is dubious at first, but if you can't trust a librarian, who can you trust?" -pg. 375

w
weaverleeanna
Apr 06, 2020

"Every day a fresh horror, and when it's over, this feeling of surreal detachment. A disbelief, almost, in what they just endured. The mind is magical. Human beings are magical.”

c
cknightkc
Mar 03, 2020

“There’s a wonderful piece of graffiti on the border wall in Tijuana…. TAMBIÉN DE ESTE LADO HAY SUEÑOS. On this side, too, there are dreams.” - Author’s Note p. 383

c
cknightkc
Mar 03, 2020

“That these people would leave their homes, their cultures, their families, even their languages, and venture into tremendous peril, risking their very lives, all for the chance to get to the dream of some faraway country that doesn’t even want them.” - p. 94

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Mich321
Nov 12, 2020

Mich321 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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