Read advance reader review of American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins, page 3 of 5

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American Dirt

A Novel

by Jeanine Cummins

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins X
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2020, 400 pages

    Feb 2022, 416 pages


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There are currently 33 member reviews
for American Dirt
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  • Dorothy L. (Manalapan, NJ)
    A Book You Will Never Forget
    There are a few times in your life when you read a book that transforms you. For me, this is one of those books. I found this book riveting from the very first sentence. I felt like I was on the journey with Lydia and Luca. I experienced many emotions along the way--horror, fear, and shock. This is the story behind the headlines and TV segments that we are exposed to very superficially. We don't know the stories behind the faces we see in cages and we don't know their journeys. I never knew what it was like to leave your home and embark on a frightening desperate attempt to survive and all the pitfalls that beset these migrants. This one of the central questions of our time and a book that everyone should read whatever your political leanings. It is the best book I read in 2019 and I am grateful to Bookbrowse for selecting me as an early-reader recipient of this truly amazing book. I might add that I am a very critical reader but there is nothing I can say except to praise American Dirt.
  • Margot P. (Mandeville, LA)
    Every character matters
    This book is going to be huge when it's released in January. There will be some who will say it's too political but how can it not be? The migrant tragedy is real, political, and complex and needs to be evaluated with compassion and realism. The story of a mother and son crossing Mexico to get to the US after their entire family is assassinated by a drug cartel in Acapulco will touch readers to the core. It's a brutal tale that Cummins brilliantly handles with great poetic writing and deep multifaceted characters. I particularly enjoyed the character of the drug lord as it added yet another fascinating layer of richness to the story.
  • Joan B. (Ellicott City, MD)
    Message for ALL
    There can be no one who has not questioned and been saddened and confused by the news reports of people leaving their homes and families to take an arduous trip to an unknown conclusion. Jeanine Cummins has pulled us in to the engrossing tale of Lydia and Luca leaving Mexico for "the north". The description of their trials and successes is a page turning adventure. Every sentence, paragraph and page keeps the reader pushing on in their shoes. What a beautifully written story to give us an understanding of the immigrant's motivation and persistence. I wish that everyone who is conflicted by the struggles would read this book.
  • Deborah H.
    This is that book. The one that I simply could not put down. Truly captivating from the start. Cummins has written a stunning novel that implores each of us to open our eyes and our hearts to the humanitarian crisis that exists at our borders. This is that book. The one you will read and instantly want to share. The one that will spark the discussions we so need to have. I would so love to see this read in high schools across the country. This IS that book.
  • Jill S. (Chicago, IL)
    It will change how you think about the world
    How do I even begin to do justice to a book that is so brilliantly-written, harrowing, poignant, thought-provoking, strongly-plotted and heart-stopping?

    Perhaps with this: American Dirt is one of those rare books that will not only galvanize readers with its story and with its characters, but also change the way we think about our human condition. At this sad juncture in American history where desperate people who are fleeing for their lives are portrayed as a homogeneous brown mass clamoring for benefits they haven't earned, Jeanine Cummins breathes life and humanity into her characters.

    This author—herself the wife of an undocumented immigrant—vividly narrates a dangerous path forward where any stranger may, in fact, be an assassin and where every decision might be an instrument of death. Lydia and Luca's harrowing journey across a lethal freight train nicknamed "La Bestia" and a dangerous border crossing that had my heart in my throat is reason enough to read this book.

    But the plot itself is not the thrust of Jeanine Cummins' story. She goes in search of deeper territory: how do we survive the unfathomable? How do we retain any spark of humanity when the world keeps revealing itself as predatory and evil? This book, to me, is a 6-star read!
  • Lani S. (Narberth, PA)
    A jewel embedded in stone
    Blurbs have covered the stratosphere heralding the publication of this novel. I am here to tell you that these comments are not hyperbole; all of them are well deserved. Simplistically, it is the story of one woman's heart wrenching flight from Mexico with her young son to El Norte to escape the cartel and its spiteful drug lord. The horror of the first chapter alone is enough to put one over the edge. However, it is the prose and the dramatic tension throughout that propel the dynamism of the novel. Cummins shines a lens on our own biases lumping all migrants together, and helps us understand the harrowing ordeal that they encounter to try and escape persecution. How sobering to think that she must have written this a few years before the issues that confront us today were not staring us in the face painfully day after day after day. It is also the story of a mother's deep love for her child that tugged at my heart's drawstrings with an aching hurt. This is a fabulous book for book groups but you might want a lot of wine to get you through the discussion.
  • Antoinette B. (Charlottesville, VA)
    American Dirt captivated me from the moment i read the first page. Literally I could not put the book down. There were so many twists and turns that were totally unpredictable. This is a profound and compelling story of a mother's love for her son and the obstacles she overcomes to keep them both alive. I could feel the character's angst and rode with them their roller coaster of extreme emotions and stupendous struggles. I was overwhelmed by the precariousness of what had been a solid family life. At night I would wonder if I could survive their circumstance. This book put in perspective how the cartels are destroying so many peoples lives and why they would rather die on the run than live in their country.
    I love this book and would recommend it to everyone. I think it would be an excellent choice for book clubs as it would prove great discussions, I give this book 5 starts,but would give more if there were more to give.
    It is one of the best books I have read in a long time.

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