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Book Jacket

American Dirt


"American Dirt is a Grapes of Wrath for our times."
—Don Winslow
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Excerpt
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Discuss American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins:
Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

Created: 02/06/20

Replies: 28

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

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2225

Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)


Posted Feb. 08, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
susanr

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 139

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I thought it was one of the most significant books that I’ve read in a long time. It gave the reader a different perspective on the immigration issue than we are hearing from government and the media.


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

Join Date: 02/20/13

Posts: 103

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down. I’ve recommended it to everyone and we’re doing it next month for my book group.


Posted Feb. 08, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
mbt1963

Join Date: 10/28/11

Posts: 11

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I really enjoyed the book. The only part that I had a hard time with was believing that her son is only eight.


Posted Feb. 08, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
PTK

Join Date: 01/11/19

Posts: 4

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I was very impressed with the book. Putting aside the controversy, I admire the author’s ability to make everything so real. I rode the trains, I was frightened, and otherwise immersed in the story in a way that is quite unusual.


Posted Feb. 08, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dawng

Join Date: 02/08/20

Posts: 7

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I'm still not done with reading the book, but, I do think it is definitely an interesting look into a "real life" situation that is going on as we speak. I am very much enjoying it!


Posted Feb. 08, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jenniferk

Join Date: 02/08/20

Posts: 5

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I loved the book. The opening chapter is absolutely intense, and drew me in immediately. I loved that Lydia and her husband were well-educated and successful. The juxtaposition between this life and the one that Lydia and her son have while immigrating to the U.S. was well illustrated, and it made the story much more compelling. It encouraged the reader to look at immigration through a different lens than one many of us typically fall back on. I love that the author was able to bring explore humanity of a highly politicized issue (that often involves dehumanization).

I think the book appeals to everyone, not a specific gender. Just my opinion, but I think this is rare.


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

Join Date: 08/30/14

Posts: 203

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

This was a very good book. I live in a border state and the immigration conversation is one that needs to be expanded to appreciate the real fears for survival many immigrants face in their countries of origin.


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

Join Date: 08/10/17

Posts: 143

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

Maybe I have read too many articles about the mismanagement of the publication and publicity for this book and that has colored my perceptions but I did have a hard time with some of this book. In some ways it seemed like the author was trying too hard to make this a literary novel. I also found it a little annoying that the author drops in words and phrases of Spanish a bit gratuitously. I have lived in Mexico in one of the cities she specifically mentioned and the description did not really sound authentic to me.
I think it is a good book to draw in readers who are not already well-informed on this topic but it didn’t really quite work for me.


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

Join Date: 05/16/16

Posts: 63

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I really enjoyed this one. I read it before I read about any of the controversy. I was on the edge of my seat for much of the book. I hope that this opens up conversations about immigration in a healthy way.


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

Join Date: 06/16/11

Posts: 1

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I think it is one of the best books I have ever read, and I have read a lot of books in my 82 years. I was completely immersed in the story from the first page. It was one of those books I couldn't put down until I finished.


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

Join Date: 01/26/17

Posts: 20

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I think that the author did an amazing job at describing the atrocities that an immigrant can face as they seek a better life. It went beyond just reading about nameless people in the news to real people and their daily struggles. It was a very moving story that I could not put down.


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

Join Date: 05/31/11

Posts: 166

Very, very good

This book could have been maudlin...it wasn't. It could have been very political...it wasn't. Ms. Cummins told the story in a direct, honest way that made it seem authentic and believable. It is a book that is hard to put down or stop reading at a reasonable hour of the night. And, something that is missing from so many books these days, it was very well edited! Thank you for that. There were only a couple of fuzzy spots - nothing I found annoying. A great book. A pleasure to read as well as food for thought.


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

Join Date: 02/10/20

Posts: 4

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

A real page-turner and believable.


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

Join Date: 08/31/18

Posts: 22

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I thought that it was an entertaining novel but not a migrational masterpiece.


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

Join Date: 07/16/14

Posts: 235

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I liked it, but felt it was very contrived. I could not relate to Luca at all and found it distracting that a child of 8 would have some of the thoughts and insights attributed to him. I did not feel the empathy I think the author was going for--but it is a novel after all and not a very well written one. In some ways, parts felt like scenes in a formulaic TV show


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

Join Date: 04/26/17

Posts: 98

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I thought this novel was a very compelling look into the horrors of being a migrant while giving us hope with the acts of kindness that the citizens and the migrants themselves performed. I think what made it more relatable was that Lydia was a woman who never dreamed she would be in this situation. I have recommended it as our next book club book, it is a book that opens a lot of conversations.


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

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 225

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

One of the reasons I liked this book as well as I did is because it covers a topic that interests me to begin with.

The majority of books I've read on the subject mostly take place once the characters or authors cross the northern border. I liked that the story covered the ground in between. In news stories related to the refugee crisis at our northern border, I don't believe we have really seen why's of migration spelled out particularly well, only the end result- -a caravan or back up at the border that often invokes feelings of terror or hysteria. I liked that Cummins included characters who were fleeing their homes for a variety of reasons- -and I hope that serves to raise our level of understanding of the crisis and generate discussions about how, why, what can we/should we do to help our neighbors.

I thought Cummins' writing was solid, for the most part- -there are definitely some parts of the story that are weaker than others. I really like Jenniferk's comment about the author being able to explore the "humanity in a highly politicized issue". I think the author did so without being political, and she didn't ask us to pick a side. (Although I really was rooting for Lydia, Luca, Soledad, Rebecca, and Beto!)


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

Join Date: 01/01/16

Posts: 247

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I thought it was a well written book. I read for character and Lydia became one of my best friends. I felt a bit lost when I finished the book. I recommend it as a good read and lots to discuss fir book clubs.


Posted Feb. 12, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
christine

Join Date: 05/30/11

Posts: 9

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

is was a great read. I appreciated all of the hard work that the author put into researching this novel. I loved this book. I even loved the title.


Posted Feb. 12, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
tswaine

Join Date: 09/14/11

Posts: 62

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I loved the book too! And read it in just a few days! I cheered for Lydia and Luca hoping that they wouldn't have too much trouble getting to freedom!


Posted Feb. 12, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dorothyl

Join Date: 04/15/12

Posts: 106

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I really loved this book. It is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I was drawn in by the first paragraph. It moved me very much. I will be using it for my book club


Posted Feb. 14, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marks

Join Date: 02/25/19

Posts: 30

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

It was one of the most compelling stories I have read in years. I actually had a few people who tried to talk me out of reading it because of the backlash and cancelled tour stuff, but I am so happy I ignored them. It was a page-turner that made me think. Doesn't get much better than that!


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

Join Date: 06/25/14

Posts: 38

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I really liked this novel. The plot was very original and yet timely. I especially liked the perspective of a middle class woman becoming a migrant. I am bilingual and work with many undocumented men and women from Mexico and Guatemala seeking refugee status in the US. These individuals come from very low income homes with little education so it's harder for me to relate to their circumstances. However Lydia's home life and education is similar to mine and much more relatable.


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

Join Date: 11/05/17

Posts: 36

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

American Dirt was a book of the times. We are all strangers in a strange world. This story magnifies how we journey through life and the trials we face. We are all striving for that elusive peace.


Posted Feb. 23, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lucyb

Join Date: 03/09/12

Posts: 25

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

Once I started reading American Dirt, I could not lay it down. Lost some sleep over it. I have a better understanding of why anyone would want to put themselves in such danger to cross the border, even if they knew they were doing it illegally.


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

Join Date: 05/08/11

Posts: 98

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I really liked this book. Whether you read it as a thriller, or as an indictment of the migrant situation, or simply a good story well told, there was a lot to like. Personally it made me think about what would I do in Lydia's situation -- the hallmark of a good book. I thought the characters were nuanced and changed as the plot progressed. The descriptions of places showed a real feeling for nature and city life. The plot was moving and tightly constructed.


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: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I have read a number of books referencing migration. MOST are not written by the nationality of the population migrating, unless it was a memoir. I personally do not see a problem with this. A good author does a tremendous amount of research and that makes for a good book. If the research is not done, you know it - the book is not that good and not highly rated by others in the know. This book, American Dirt, was deeply and solidly researched and well written.

In following Lydia and her son on their trip to freedom you felt as it you were there, looking behind you, searching around every corner, unable to trust anyone. I felt that Cummins wrote a good book. There may have been liberties taken, but that is acceptable in a fiction book. She developed good characters and went with a current and relevant plot.


Posted Mar. 30, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
brendad

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 5

RE: Overall, what do you think of American Dirt? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I am listening to it on audiobook and, quite frankly, I can't wait until it is over. I really don't like the narrator.


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