TITLE: American Dirt
AUTHOR: Jeanine Cummins
PUBLISHER: Flatiron Books
PUB. YEAR: 2019
RATING: - 5/5
Lydia Quixano Perez was a bookstore owner in Acapulco Mexico. She her husband, Sebastian, a journalist, and eight-year old son Luca had a nice life until one day, it all ended horribly. Lydia feels responsible for the fact that her husband and 15 family members were gunned down at a family cookout, after she unknowingly befriended a drug cartel operative. Although she and her young son were lucky enough to escape death, the cartel also knows their job isn't finished yet.
Lydia and Luca are forced to flee their home with some cash and just what they could carry in backpacks. What follows is the dangerous journey they face as they set out on foot, by bus and, even by learning to hop onto moving trains in an attempt to get to the US. During their harrowing journey they face hunger, cruelty and although there are a few kind people along the way, there is far more bad than good to be had along the way. They meet other migrants who share their heartbreaking experiences and become travel companions to two sisters fleeing Honduras who share incredibly sad secrets as well.
Although Lydia's background and economic status was not the norm of the migrants they met along the way, I thought their story was just as heartbreaking. I had to read this story in short bursts as I found it to be realistic and quite sad; I was almost afraid to see how it would end. A work of fiction, it felt like it could be representative of why many migrants are traveling thousands of miles to reach the U.S. for a safer, better way of life for their family. I especially enjoyed the author's notes at the end which gave insight as to why she wrote this story. This book is sure to be a popular bookclub discussion choice and, it's worth all the hype it's been getting IMO.