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April 5, 2020

Jeanine Cummins: American Dirt

Jeanine Cummins: American Dirt—A mother and her 8-year-old son travel a harrowing journey to the U.S. to escape a Mexican cartel.

Lydia’s middle class life in Acapulco collapses in a hail of bullets. Her journalist husband, Sebastián, published a profile on the local cartel leader who exacted his revenge by ordering the family slaughtered. When he discovers Lydia and her 8-year-old son, Luca, survived, he demands they be found and murdered.

Lydia knows her only hope for her son is to escape to the United States, but her sheltered life hasn’t prepared her for the hardships of becoming a migrant. She befriends others working their way north to learn how it’s done—how to board a moving freight train, how to find shelter and food, how to find a trustworthy coyote to smuggle them across the border, and, most importantly, how to survive.

The obstacles in their path are numerous: the Mexican police force hunting illegal immigrants from south of Mexico, other cartels demanding bribes or worse, criminals who want to steal and rape, and, of course, the U.S. Border Patrol who wants to stop their crossing.

Some of the group she travels with will not complete the journey and she has to decide when and whom to help, and when to turn her back so she can survive another day. The decisions are gut-wrenching.

Through all the horrors she sees and experiences, one thing keeps her moving forward—the desire for Luca to have a better life.

Why don’t I rate the books I read? The simple truth is I stop reading any book I don’t like, so I never finish it and don’t count it as a book read. Thus, I like every book I complete. The rest is subjective. Whether or not you will like the book is as much about whether the subject interests you and the author’s style is one you enjoy.

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