American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins


A book that will open your eyes, break your heart and compel you to keep reading

My rating:  5 out of 5

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Lydia has a good life in Mexico with her husband and son.  One sunny day her extended family are  all shot dead by the local drugs cartel; a twist of fate sparing Lydia and her son.  This is the tale of a mother and son trying to reach the USA, where they hope to be safe from the wide-reaching powers of the cartels.

American DirtLydia is 32 and her son 8 years old when they witness the massacre of their extended family at a BBQ.  From that moment Lydia’s life changes from being a bookshop owner, wife and mother with all the normal everyday irritations of life, to being a migrant fleeing for her, and her son’s, life.   This is the story of their journey of over 2,500 miles, where they meet people who offer them help and support, and others who offer only misery and death and where Lydia and Luca face fears and challenges they could never have imagined. 

Although this book tells the harrowing stories of why people leave a home they love, and risk everything to reach another country where they have no certainty of a welcome, the narrative focuses on ways to survive and carry on in the hope of a better future. 

The research that must have gone into this book is staggering.  So many personal stories, and details of the migrant route from Acapulco to the USA, are incorporated into Lydia and Luca’s story.  The book is beautifully written, the words easy to read – even though the content is hard.  Jeanine Cummins avoids graphic violence in her writing, though the reader is made fully aware of the violence and hardships going on throughout the book. 

5*s for this remarkable book, which has opened my eyes to why migrants risk their lives for a uncertain future, and made me appreciate the peace and safety of my world.  A book that will break your heart, but also compel you to keep reading. 

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