‘American Dirt’ by Jeanine Cummins

Ok I’ll be honest. Reading hasn’t been all that easy for me lately. You’d think that with being stuck in the house and all, I’d be doing nothing but…but it doesn’t seem to work like that. However, American Dirt was the perfect book for such a time as this and I was lucky to get a ‘Skip the Line’ hold through Libby library app to read it because it’s very high profile right now for both good and bad reasons.

American Dirt is a compelling, easy to read story about migrants, (a crisis of another sort all together) so it’s been therapeutic, in a weird sort of way, to sink into the pages and escape into another reality. At its core this book is about good people in hard times with so many twists and turns that it was totally captivating. Lydia and her son Luca find themselves in an unimaginable nightmare of brutality and constant danger as they flee their home in Acapulco and seek to survive. The opening scene of this novel is unforgettable and their journey is harrowing.

Critics have created controversy in social media around the authenticity of the migrant experience in this book, seemingly making those who really enjoyed the book, rethink their experience of it, which seems a shame. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I stand solidly behind my own recommendation of it. I can’t comment on whether this book reflects truth or is the most definitive migrant story, but I do know that I found it compulsively readable and beautifully written. Again this is simply a story of good people in hard times trying to survive. Fiction is truth, even if it is not fact. Stories matter and gaining empathy for another person’s story brings perspective to our own.

What are you reading during this pandemic?

4 responses to “‘American Dirt’ by Jeanine Cummins

  1. Hi Joanne: Like you I am reading stories that transport me far away from here into another era of very unspeakable times: Ronald Balson’s : The Girl from Berlin; Once we were Brothers and currently Karolina’s Sisters. The focus of these stories is largely post WWII and deal with uncovering the truth of people’s lives who lived through the Holocaust- including a focus on present day detective and legal work. Two main characters: Catherine Lockhart ( lawyer) and Liam Taggart(PI) are very engaging and are the main problem solvers in all three novels.

    • Thanks for the recommendation Karen! I’ve never heard of this author. His books have high ratings on Goodreads. I’ll definitely put this series on my TBR list. It strikes me too, that reading a series is likely very good advice during this strange time, because we can sink into reading about some main characters that we are already familiar with.

  2. Currently reading Language of Flowers. Even though it is an engaging book, finding it difficult to focus, We are currently self isolating so no going and buying flowers, reading about them is wonderful. Picking out flowers will take on new dimension Thinking I might need to set goal each day to read a couple of chapters or more!
    Joe is finding the same! Usually he can sit for for hours engrossed in his book,
    Libby is being a bit slow in sending books so might have to treat myself to buying book online from Kobo. A reward for finishing Language of Flowers!
    Looking forward to suggestions for light reading!

    • I totally agree with you. Sometimes it’s so hard to read these days and the words just end up swimming on the page! I have been taking a short rest after lunch that begins with reading for a half hour and I find that helps a lot, so your goal is a good idea I think. At some point you might even end up reading more! In terms of available reading, have a look at what is available on Libby without placing holds, so maybe not the latest greatest, but some older books that you might have missed that aren’t high profile. Also, series are a good idea, there might be Alexander McCall Smiths that you missed or others. With a series you can sink into the story while already being familiar with the setting and some of the characters. You might also want to check out Lucinda Riley. She has written a number of books besides the Seven Sisters that are compelling and easy to read. Also check out William Kent Krueger’s mystery series which starts with Iron Lake–supposed to be a lot like Louise Penny. Stay well and happy quilting too!

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