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This book is a roller coaster of emotions and really challenges you and makes you ask "what would you do if you were in Lydia's shoes?"
No doubt, Cummins can write. American Dirt was a page-turner from front cover to the end. The story is tightly told; no wasted description, dialogue, or scenes. Its unfortunate---perhaps even a crime against literature---that the novel has been criticized because the author is not of "approved" heritage or color: how ridiculous is that? It is unforgiveable that in her post-script, the author bows down to those criticisms and tries to justify herself. Nonsense! The work stands on its own and should be judged on its own. It matters not who wrote it, where they are from, what color they are, what gender they are, or who their ancestors are. Judge the book. Judge. The. Book. Had I read her mea-not-really-sorta-culpa before I'd read the book, I likely would have been so disgusted I wouldn't have read the book.
One criticism I have of the book is the author's choice <spoiler alert> to have no one on the migrant trail be a person with criminal intentions (except those pursuing the heroine and her son). There are no drug dealers seeking new customers, there are no gang members seeking access to new territory in the US, there are no murderers seeking anonymity across the border---everyone is an innocent victim with only the most noble of intentions. And as anyone with experience in the field can tell you, that is quite simply not true...not the case. I don't think the author does this out of naivete; I think she does it out of political ideology. So be it. It's her book. But it takes away from the realism that she so desperately pretends to want to be portraying.
I was aware of the controversy surrounding this book before I read it but it is fiction and I read it on that level. If it were non-fiction I would expect it to be taken apart tooth and nail but it is an invented story based on 4 years of authors research. If I can relate to a character/s in any work of fiction than it doesn't matter to me what their gender or nationality is or whether they are even human. I'll follow their story to the end and if it is a good one I won't bother with the pedantic take that others may have formulated.
This is a good story. Is it the Grapes of Wrath for a generation? Uh, I won't go that far even if the book cover does.
I had just read "On The Plain of Snakes", so the story rings true. I still found it difficult to read. Maybe the fact that Mexico is still a third world country catering to the drug addicted North. Question : Why is Mexican Government so corrupt?
I JUST FINISHED THIS BOOK AND FELT THE AUTHOR OF THIS BOOK DID A VERY GOOD JOB IN CREATING THE PEOPLE SHE PROTRATED IN THIS BOOK. IN READING THIS BOOK I CAN FEEL THE MIRGRANT FEARS AND HOW MUCH THEY RISK TO MAKE A BETTER LIFE FOR THEMSELVES HERE IN THE US. IT SHOWS YOU THE CRIME AND CARTELS THOUGHOUT ALL OF MEXICO.
THIS IS SOMETHING MOST AMERICANS REALLY DO NOT UNDERSTAND. THIS SHOULD BE
A MUST READ EVEN THOUGH THE PEOPLE ARE FICTIONAL I THINK THE AUTHOR DID SOME
RESEARCH TO HAVE INSIGHT INTO MEXICO AND THE CRIME AND CARTELS. SHE MADE
YOU FEEL THE STUGGLES OF THE INDIVIDAL MIGRANTS AND REASON FOR THE JOURNEY
NORTH TO AMERICA FOR A BETTER LIFE. I ENJOYED THIS BOOK VERY MUCH.
What to do when you lose nearly everyone in your family? This is the dramatic story of a mother and child who flee for their own lives from Mexico to the United States. Their lives suddenly transformed from upper middle class to that of migrants seeking refuge -- what they encounter on their journey is both harrowing, and redeeming of humanity.
This is a well written and evenly paced adventure story tracing the escape by a mother and her 8 year old boy from a murderous cartel in Acapulco Mexico and their trek to the illegal entry into the United States. The author is clearly conveying several messages that she never misses to press home: first is the plight of the Latino migrants that is driving them to cross over into the United States, second the variation of characters that defy stereotyping of the migrants, and third that women can be resourceful and resilient in the face of adversity. The author, however, works too hard to drive home the messages and in places forces dialogue that simply is not very credible and results in the overall narrative suffering.
A frightening Mexican migrant experience of a woman and her young son fleeing the omnipresent cartel in Mexico headed to the U.S. I thought Lydia's relationship with Javier was rather disconcerting. An easy read, simply written, with the exception of the off-putting italicized Spanish. The entire cultural appropriation argument is also a concern, but the story needs to be told.
While the characters are fictional, accounts of what migrants must overcome within the borders or their own country isn't. The violence consuming many areas of Mexico/Central America are real. It was eye-opening to read of the internal corruption that consumes and destroys once beautiful and peaceful places. I have a better understanding of the plight to trek to the US and regardless if the author is a migrant herself (with all the discussion around this book), she is extremely talented in her writing.
This book is well written and a real page turner. I would definitely recommend it. One of the best books I've read in a while.
I have no idea why so many people loved this book. First of all, I would tell the author that if she is going to write a book in English and pepper it constantly with Spanish, please provide accurate and full translations. Don't expect readers to look everything up; that's just lazy writing. Next, when I see novelists like Stephen King, Kristin Hannah (and others) give high praise with generic comments, I wonder if they even read it. Then, the son, Luca, is given the wisdom of an 80 year old (instead of 8). Cummins could have provided a map. Again, the reader has to look up the journey and try to make sense of
the escape routes the characters chose to follow from Acapulco to the United States. From my point of view, it seems like the author recorded a lot of testimonials and wrote a composite story of strife and sacrifices suffered by others trying to get out of Mexico and other destinations in Central America. What on earth makes everyone think that it's so much better being in the United States? Or even Canada?
After having a family party shot up by the cartel in Acapulco, a mother and her young son, flee being the only family survivors. From Acapulco to the United States, we follow their dangerous, frightening, bold journey. As the cartel hunts them, they become more and more marginalized, having to take more dangerous steps to escape detection.
This book was well researched, written, and absolutely worth the read. I got through it much faster than I anticipated and would highly recommend it. Make sure you are prepared for it as there are some scenes that feel like they "couldn't" happen because I cannot imagine them personally - which is exactly why it is important to pick this up.
The publication of this novel stirred up a much needed debate about authenticity, representation, and cultural appropriation. There are valid points on both sides of this argument, and context is everything, but my problem with this book isn't so much that Cummins doesn't represent the community she is writing about. Worse, she is exploiting it to craft a genre crime/suspense thriller that removes the very compelling and immediate issues of asylum and abuse of immigrants into the realm of escapist entertainment. Her protagonist is an upper middle-class Mexican woman who forms a close relationship with a drug cartel kingpin. Not exactly your typical asylum candidate. Her escape and the cat-and-mouse play between these two forms the plot--another damsel in distress. True, she provides some compelling descriptions of the dangers and fears of getting across the border, but does so in service to a genre not known for its realism. Escapism is fine, but there are life-and-death issues in the real world that deserve better treatment.
A fictional story but well researched of migrants and a mother's love. The author brings out all the stress, fear, and mistrust one would feel while fleeing for your life and yet there is compassion too for others who are suffering from their own stories who are seeking hope in the US. Well written and should enlighten the reader about migrants coming through Mexico.
Look, I'm all for representation, but I think the controversy over this book because the author is not a native Mexican/of Mexican descent is a bridge too far. This is an extremely well researched and well written book that is compelling from the first page to the last, and anything that can shed light on the plight of some migrants can only help, even if it's a fictionalized account. I think we need to have a broader discussion on whether books can have merit irrespective of the author's background IF the subject matter is treated accurately and with the respect it deserves (or doesn't, if it's an infamous person or horrific actual event).
There is controversary about this book because the author is white and not Mexican. However, I felt that the message was very clear. I was deeply moved and was given an insiders look into the plight of the immigrant trying to cross the US southern border. I had no idea what it actually meant to "cross illegally" from Mexico into the US. This book is a very good description of that plight. It was heart breaking, shocking and stirred a lot of emotion and discussion. For that, I feel it should be forgiven it's controversary. I also feel the controversary is good because it draws more people to the book which will result in more white awareness of what is actually happening at our southern border.
There is a lot of controversy about this book, which I read up on while I started reading. The author is not herself an immigrant, and that's where the controversy arises. I think if you keep that in mind - meaning don't take everything totally to heart or pass judgment based on the book, then you are in for quite the ride. It's very well-written, gripping, disturbing!, and thrilling. I would say it's about as disturbing as some Stephen King novels. If you're okay with that, then it's definitely worth the read.
One of the most moving books I've read in my life time the author dose not disappoint! Gave me a whole new perspective on immigrants. Wish the author dose include as many Mexican dialogue as it has in the book. For a non-fluent person I found the words effecting my enjoyment with the book
This story is not for the faint hearted - from the first page to the last you are on the edge of your seat. Will they survive? Will they make it to 'El Norte'? What horrible things will happen on their journey? Will the cartel finally catch them? Despite the controversy surrounding this book (white female author writing about Mexican migrant experiences) this is a great read for a work fiction. If you are looking for non-fiction on this topic - they are out there but are most likely much harder to stomach.
A gripping work of fiction about a mother and son's journey to flee the Mexican cartel. One particular quote that resonated with me: "Lydia is dubious at first, but if you can't trust a librarian, who can you trust?"