Author: Jeanine Cummins
Published: January 21, 2020
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: January 8-February 1, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars
También de este lado hay sueños. On this side, too, there are dreams.
Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.
Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.
Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?
What must be said first: American Dirt is a work of fiction, and Jeanine Cummins brings us the story of Lydia and her son Luca, who lose their entire family during a quinceañera in the first few chapters of the novel. From here, Lydia and Luca have no choice but go on a journey of traveling through Mexico to illegally cross the border into the USA. American Dirt shows how much one mother will go through to save her child at all costs.
At times the novel did drag for me, as it seemed too long. American Dirt does show the reader who may not be of Hispanic origin how dangerous Mexico is and the perilous journey migrants face as they attempt to cross the border illegally. And most don’t ever make it. Some of the journey came with extremes and it seemed like Cummins was trying for some extreme shock value to some of what happens to our characters and the others they come across.
Do read the Author’s Note as Cummins gives us some insight into her wanting to write this story and her family. She is of Puerto Rican descent and her husband was an illegal immigrant. It took her five years to get American Dirt published.
I listened to the audiobook version and the narrator is Yareli Arizmendi. She is Mexican and narrated the novel with perfection. She gave a voice to the Spanish words for me, which if I had read them myself, I would have butchered the way they were supposed to be said.
Many thanks to the publishers Flatiron Books and Macmillan Audio for granting me an arc digital download of the novel to listen to.