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American Dirt Bets On...

American Dirt

January 2020

I read an early advance copy of AMERICAN DIRT by Jeanine Cummins back in June, after hearing buzz about it at Book Expo. In it, Lydia Quixano Perez is a bookseller living in Acapulco, Mexico, with her husband, who is a journalist, and her eight-year-old son, Luca, who is quite precocious and prescient. Drug cartels are overtaking the city that she knows and loves, and her husband is writing about them, anonymously, so as to keep his family from feeling repercussions. A customer at Lydia’s store shares her book taste, and they chat and banter. She is unaware that he is Javier, the jefe of a cartel that has been rising quickly.

When her husband writes an in-depth profile of Javier that results in a horrific crime against her family, Lydia finds herself on the run with Luca towards el norte, the United States. Their journey is fraught with danger and fear, both from what they are running from and what they are running towards. The world they knew has harmed them, but what is before them has its own perils.

As I read it, I thought back on the very provocative "60 Minutes" piece about the border that ran on April 28, 2019. "60 Minutes" said that this segment got them letters from people on both sides of the aisle who had their views upended after watching.

For readers, like that “60 Minutes” piece, AMERICAN DIRT can spur a 360-degree conversation on the subject of immigration. Jeanine’s writing will draw readers in; the novel is an absolute page-turner. It’s not the definitive book on the border and immigration, but it’s a terrific entry to the conversation. For that reason, book groups should take note.

American Dirt
by Jeanine Cummins

  • Publication Date: January 21, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Flatiron Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250209765
  • ISBN-13: 9781250209764