Read advance reader review of American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins, page 5 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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  • Carolyn L. (Vero Beach, FL)
    American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
    Jeanine Cummins was not an author previously read by this reviewer; however, once having finished this enlightening novel, it's a sure bet that more of her work will be enjoyed
    American Dirt starts off like the explosives that the main characters, mother and son, Luca and Lydia endure in page one A party is being held at Lydia's parents' house when a drug cartel descends upon the party with firing AK-47's. Luca, Lydia's seven year old son is in the bathroom washing his hands when a bullet just misses him. The next thing he knows his mother Lydia, burst through the door and knocks him down landing on top of him in a five foot walled shower.
    The two are not discovered but their entire family are dead, sixteen in all, including husband-father Sebastian. This is the start of a journey whereby both mother and son who are used to middle class culture become part of the migrant culture and population as they make their way from Acapulco, Mexico heading to Estados Unidos.

    Cummins description techniques are amazing. The reader becomes part of the journey experiencing the horrors, of traveling while being chased by the Cartel plus the humiliation of seeking food and information from strangers. The author reminds the reader that the protagonists are Mexican by often writing her character's words in Spanish, but then translated to English. Cummins has chosen third person omniscience as the point of view and switches back and forth through most of the novel from mother to son. We also learn the thoughts of the two sisters Soledad and Rebeca who show them how to board a moving train, and 10 year old Beto who saves the day by providing much needed money to Lydia who has been robbed. These characters are introduced to the reader just as she is becoming somewhat bored with the monotony of the odyssey.

    The book has several themes — Mother's Love — Family — The cost not only monetarily but emotionally of living in Mexico where the Cartels with all their viciousness are becoming more and more the government of Mexico.
    This writer's eyes were opened when she realized the hardships and what is to be disappointing outcome for the migrants. A new found respect is realized by the reader. I highly recommend American Dirt.
  • Randi H. (Bronx, NY)
    American Dirt is the best book I've read this year. It tells the story of a mother and son as they flee drug cartel violence in their hometown of Acapulco. They head north, facing many dangers, and have to draw upon reserves of inner strength they did not know they had. Author Jeanine Cummins has done a wonderful job conveying the experiences of these refugees. The story is beautifully written and I have been unable to stop thinking about the characters since finishing the book a number of days ago. I think American Dirt would make a fantastic pick for book groups.
  • Florence H. (Laguna Woods, CA)
    American Dirt
    This is a riveting,compassionate, eye-opening account of immigrants on their journey to the U.S. These fictional people, coming from various countries in Central America,become very real and put faces on the many statistics we have read about immigrants. Each is coming north for different reasons, but as the horrors of their pilgrimage are faced, it becomes obvious that not one of them chooses this route to "el Norte" without being desperate. In many instances the evil they encounter is tempered with goodness by people encountered who have the courage to help.
  • Victoria C. (Riva, MD)
    A different look at the migrant story.
    Thank you to Flatiron Books and Bookbrowse for giving me the chance to read this upcoming novel. And thanks to Linda as well! After reading an excerpt, I worked so hard to obtain an ARC of this title, I eventually ended up with two!

    This is a fantastic slant on the immigration story and of course, very timely. The author's choice to center the story around a middle class mother and son, with a reporter husband, is what made it so compelling to me. I felt that I could really relate to them more than some of the other immigration tales I've read recently. Their frightening and adventurous journey will keep you turning pages late into the night, rooting them on at each step.

    But it was the end of the story, including the author's afterword that brought tears to my eyes. A reminder of our shared humanity and that people and their individual stories cannot be summed up in soundbites. I highly recommend this to all.
  • Pau J. (Bath, ME)
    Stunning depiction of migrants voyage
    I was simply stunned with this book; it is fantastic. It is a deep story of a mother and her child and what necessitated them to leave home. I felt like I was with them on their trip, feeling terrified, tired, and afraid. I was getting to the end of the book, and almost afraid to finish it ... I really did not want any of these people to go through any more pain. The story is told with a great deal of detail that allows you to immerse yourself in the story. The author's note was very helpful in expanding on how and why she wrote this novel. Honestly, I would give this 10 stars. I think it is one of the best books I have read this year.

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