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American Dirt


"American Dirt is a Grapes of Wrath for our times."
—Don Winslow
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Discuss American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins:
Lydia refers to her and Luca becoming migrants as something that happened to them rather than something they did. Why do you think the author chose to have her characters view their circumstances this way?

Created: 02/06/20

Replies: 17

Posted Feb. 06, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2143

Lydia refers to her and Luca becoming migrants as something that happened to them rather than something they did. Why do you think the author chose to have her characters view their circumstances this way?

Lydia refers to her and Luca becoming migrants as something that happened to them rather than something they did. Why do you think the author chose to have her characters view their circumstances this way?


Posted Feb. 08, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
bestmartin's Gravatar
bestmartin

Join Date: 02/20/13

Posts: 92

RE: Lydia refers to her and Luca becoming migrants as something that happened to them rather than something they did. Why do you think the author chose to have her characters view their circumstances this way?

Lydia didn’t have a choice. The drug lord wanted them dead and had so many people looking for them. They had to become invisible and join the other migrants on the trail North.


Posted Feb. 09, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
melanieb

Join Date: 08/30/14

Posts: 180

RE: Lydia refers to her and Luca becoming migrants as something that happened to them rather than something they did. Why do you think the author chose to have her characters view their circumstances this way?

I think this is a way to impress upon the reader that Lydia’s circumstances were not her fault so she was not to blame and could focus on a plan to move forward and not dwell in any guilt that would mentally burden her.


Posted Feb. 09, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
peggyt

Join Date: 08/10/17

Posts: 143

RE: Lydia refers to her and Luca becoming migrants as something that happened to them rather than something they did. Why do you think the author chose to have her characters view their circumstances this way?

Lydia and her family are living an upper middle class life and even though they know they are at risk due to her husband’s work as a journalist, they never expected to be in this position. Considering the situation of her family and of the city of Acapulco, I think it was unrealistic but that is how the story is presented.


Posted Feb. 10, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 211

RE: Lydia refers to her and Luca becoming migrants as something that happened to them rather than something they did. Why do you think the author chose to have her characters view their circumstances this way?

I interpreted this as meaning that no one really WANTS to become a migrant. I don't think anyone wakes up one day and decides to make a pilgrimage across three countries "just because". Lydia and Luca both thought back fondly about their life in Acapulco; the beautiful vocabulary used to describe the countryside and the bustling of cities they visited made me feel like they loved their home, their state, and their country.

Soledad and Rebecca lovingly remembered their cloud forest home too. First, they were sent away from there to keep them safe. While San Pedro Sula was nothing like the home they knew, at least they were reunited with their father- -until that wasn't safe for them either.

The fact that all of them were now running far away from the places they loved for "El Norte" didn't have to do with them being killers, or rapists, or drug dealers. Some power outside of them was threatening them for nothing more than being married to a journalist who told the truth and being a beautiful young women. It wasn't something they ever planned or expected. "It" happened; they did not have control over it.


Posted Feb. 10, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
katherinep

Join Date: 07/16/14

Posts: 220

RE: Lydia refers to her and Luca becoming migrants as something that happened to them rather than something they did. Why do you think the author chose to have her characters view their circumstances this way?

Some migrants make a choice to leave their home in which their lives aren't threatened but in which they are living in poverty or as inferiors. These people could stay and survive, remain with what they know and their families but opt to leave to have a better life. The migrants in this book, really don't have a choice--if they stay they die, one way or another. If they go, they may live, they may improve their lot. They take the chance though they would rather not have to leave.


Posted Feb. 11, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Maggie

Join Date: 01/01/16

Posts: 241

RE: Lydia refers to her and Luca becoming migrants as something that happened to them rather than something they did. Why do you think the author chose to have her characters view their circumstances this way?

It is something that happened to them. Due to the article written by Sebastian the entire family was targeted. They had to run to save their lives.


Posted Feb. 15, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
angelakuemmel

Join Date: 03/11/15

Posts: 10

RE: Lydia refers to her and Luca becoming migrants as something that happened to them rather than something they did. Why do you think the author chose to have her characters view their circumstances this way?

Because it happened to them as a result of the murder; not something they chose, planned for, etc


Posted Feb. 16, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
michelew

Join Date: 11/03/11

Posts: 3

RE: Lydia refers to her and Luca becoming migrants as something that happened to them rather than something they did. Why do you think the author chose to have her characters view their circumstances this way?

Between global climate changes & the collapse of democracies, it is inevitable in the coming century that there will be more migrants and less habitable land, less food, less water, more violence. For many immigrants, coming to the USA is actually a forced choice between impossibly bad options. Any book that emphasizes the humanity of migrants is a good thing, and I thought this one was engaging, but I think the feelings of real migrants are usually very mixed and for the older folks, linger is difficult.


Posted Feb. 19, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janeb

Join Date: 10/09/18

Posts: 28

RE: Lydia refers to her and Luca becoming migrants as something that happened to them rather than something they did. Why do you think the author chose to have her characters view their circumstances this way?

You phrased the question to suggest Lydia might have a choice. If she had a choice, clearly that would have been a whole other story possibly including her husband with a plan for family members to follow later...alive.
Lydia had a life that she enjoyed with an extended family she loved. Everyone was fine. They did not need to immigrate for more opportunity or better living conditions until Javier and the Jardineros came into the picture. For example, the Jews in WW 2 would have preferred to stay put in the lives they had constructed had not Hitler made that difficult. Generally, one can assume that immigrants don’t set about to make their lives miserable for the thrill of the trip.


Posted Feb. 20, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
TLVZ721

Join Date: 03/26/18

Posts: 16

RE: Lydia refers to her and Luca becoming migrants as something that happened to them rather than something they did. Why do you think the author chose to have her characters view their circumstances this way?

I believe that the migrants are victims of circumstance and they are trying their best to improve their station in life, preserve their actual lives, or develop a better life for their children. I don't believe anyone would embark on that journey unless it was out of necessity. I do believe that these events happened TO Lydia, rather than her causing any of them. In fact, had she not developed the friendship with Javier, the massacre could have been the entire family, happened much soon, and with no fore- or afterthought from Javier at all.


Posted Feb. 22, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
windellh

Join Date: 11/05/17

Posts: 36

RE: Lydia refers to her and Luca becoming migrants as something that happened to them rather than something they did. Why do you think the author chose to have her characters view their circumstances this way?

Lydia was seeking a way to disguise herself and Luca. She wanted them to become annonymus.How much better to hide themselves from harm.


Posted Mar. 01, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 425

RE: Lydia refers to her and Luca becoming migrants as something that happened to them rather than something they did. Why do you think the author chose to have her characters view their circumstances this way?

The word circumstances is crucial and has been touched upon by commenters above. It is interesting that the word migrant can have more of a negative connotation than the word immigrant; the vast majority of citizens in the United States are children not too far removed from their earlier generation(s) of immigrant ancestors.


Posted Mar. 03, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
patty claire

Join Date: 04/05/19

Posts: 22

RE: Lydia refers to her and Luca becoming migrants as something that happened to them rather than something they did. Why do you think the author chose to have her characters view their circumstances this way?

Lydia and Luca do not choose to become migrants, they have no other way to reach safety. Initially, both Lydia and the reader feel that having a bank account and coming from a middle-class life will enable them to leave Mexico by more ordinary means but they can't use a credit card or obtain a visa without revealing their identity. They truly become migrants.


Posted Mar. 06, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
bethanieg

Join Date: 03/06/20

Posts: 3

RE: Lydia refers to her and Luca becoming migrants as something that happened to them rather than something they did. Why do you think the author chose to have her characters view their circumstances this way?

The author makes the case for Lydia that she had no safe place to go but out of Mexico. Surrounding Central American countries would not have been any safer. Unfortunately, she had to flee for her life and save her child. She wasn’t going to hop on a plane and live on another continent. It is clear that this is the only option she had.


Posted Mar. 09, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
PostProcessual

Join Date: 07/16/19

Posts: 2

RE: Lydia refers to her and Luca becoming migrants as something that happened to them rather than something they did. Why do you think the author chose to have her characters view their circumstances this way?

I think it really lends perspective to the experience where ones intent doesn’t always align with the circumstances available. While Lydia intends to gain stability and safety for her and her son, her available options to navigate out of a precarious social standing into a new one doesn’t leave her with the agency to make the decisions and actions she desires. It’s a frustrating cycle but one that many have gone through (and still go through) seeking a better life.


Posted Mar. 18, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beckyh

Join Date: 05/08/11

Posts: 92

RE: Lydia refers to her and Luca becoming migrants as something that happened to them rather than something they did. Why do you think the author chose to have her characters view their circumstances this way?

I think Lydia thought of :migrants" as "other". She was herself prejudiced against migrants. She saw them as "poor, unfortunate, not like her and her and her family". This attitude changed as she joined them and became one with them. She began to see them as people just like herself. I thought this was the real beauty of this book. As Lydia's attitude changed so did mine.


Posted Mar. 25, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
taking.mytime's Gravatar
taking.mytime

Join Date: 03/29/16

Posts: 169

RE: Lydia refers to her and Luca becoming migrants as something that happened to them rather than something they did. Why do you think the author chose to have her characters view their circumstances this way?

Lydia was forced to protect her son from the Cartel. Had Sebastian not been slain, their life would have gone on, but at that point neither she nor Luca was save. There was no choice - she was forced to flee - to somewhere that the Cartel could not reach them.


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