American Dirt- Book Review

By: Jeanine Cummins

I bought this book entirely on a whim. I don’t usually read books about South America or the USA; however, every time I saw this book on the shelf, I found myself wanting to read it. I finally bought it, and I am so glad I did. It was a fantastic book detailing the story of Lydia and her son Luca, both fictional characters. Everything that Lydia experiences with the Mexican cartels, the migration routes, the migrants she meets and the final crossing into the USA are real experiences that many immigrants face when deciding to leave their homes in Mexico.

The central theme of the book…

Survival is the dominant theme of this book. First, Lydia focuses on surviving daily life in Mexico with drug cartels running the city she lives in. She then needs to focus on keeping her son alive once the drug cartel targets them. The book focuses on how Lydia and her son survive the long journey to America, walking through one cartel run town to another. For many immigrants, the fear of deportation and survival is something they experience even after they have successfully landed in their new home. The picture Cummins creates regarding the struggles immigrants face as they try to get to the American border perfectly shows the life-threatening difficulties of this experience. This book brings to life the often-overlooked story of illegal immigration, including the heartbreaking stories of those who don’t make it to freedom.

What I learned from this book…

Cummins paints a real and vivid picture of what many immigrants experience in the dangerous countries they are fleeing. The reader is exposed to the horrifying encounters that immigrants face on their journey, including stories of rape, torture and death. I found myself thinking about the USA’s current political climate and the horrible conditions immigrants face along the US border. I don’t think people are exposed to the stories of why people are fleeing their country or why people choose to leave their homes and their families. These stories could help Americans understand why immigrants are choosing to come to America. Lydia and Luca’s journey is extraordinary and unimaginable. Knowing that thousands of immigrants take this route every day is incredibly shocking, and Cummins perfectly details this sad story.

Further thoughts…

This book also makes you think of the people and families who don’t make it through to freedom, who are turned back or are killed along the way. I also found myself thinking about the people who make it across the border and how they live their new lives. There are many dimensions to Cummins’s book, and I highly recommend it!

Other books written by Jeanine Cummins:

*A Rip in Heaven
*The Outside Boy
*The Crooked Branch

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