By: Jeanine Cummins
Lydia has been blessed with the life of her dreams. She is happily married to her soulmate, has a remarkable eight-year-old son named Luca, and enjoys the company of a loving family. As an avid reader, she earns her living running a bookstore whose revenue is sustained by local tourism. But when a new cartel comes to Acapulco, the life Lydia once had is irreversibly altered.
In a botched assassination attempt on her whole family, Lydia and Luca are the only two survivors. Now on the run for their lives, the pair must escape to the United States where the cartels have no influence by fleeing the only home they’ve ever known.
Along the way, death and misfortune will be a constant companion as Lydia and Luca bravely take on the life of migrants.
American Dirt is the most difficult book I’ve reviewed to date on this blog. This difficulty isn’t born from poor writing or poor execution. On the contrary, this book excels in both respects. No, the difficulty is in the subject matter and how to discuss the themes contained within these pages in a cohesive and thoughtful manner.
My views on illegal immigration were already biased as I received a liberal college education in a city with a large Hispanic population. I would get frustrated when I would overhear the geriatric, white community talk about how immigrants were coming here to steal our jobs and commit crimes because the US president openly makes those claims. I was impartial when it came to illegal immigrants as I have known some in my life and they were always decent people. If they came here, they did. If they didn’t, they didn’t. My thoughts on the subject ended there.
After reading American Dirt, I’m heartbroken for these migrants who travel thousands of miles in the harshest conditions imaginable to escape poverty, organized crime, and apathetic governments. While this book is a work of fiction, the research behind the narrative took four years to compile and is very much real. My impassive and impartial beliefs about undocumented migrants has completely changed. Put simply, I hope they make it.
I hope that the honest, hardworking, terrified people who have already lost everything make it to this country safely without being robbed, raped, or killed. I hope they find someone who gets them across the border unnoticed. I hope they establish new lives in this country where we are supposed to be a melting pot and accepting of other cultures. I hope that all the “American” people who go and sit down at Mexican restaurants on Cinco de Mayo to enjoy a margarita start excepting the people who made those foods and traditions.
Regardless of how you feel about illegal immigrants and migrants, you should read this book. I’m not saying it will turn you into a leftist like me, but I do think it will give you a new perspective and appreciation for the people who go through so much to get to a country that openly despises them.
Overall rating: 5