Lydia is a bookstore owner in Acapulco, Mexico. After her husband Sebastian, a journalist, exposes one of Mexico’s biggest cartel leaders, the cartel retaliates. Lydia and her son Luca are forced into a new, dangerous world filled with peril at every turn as they try to escape to “el Norte” to save their lives.
I mentioned in my last post that books help me to see things from a new perspective, and transport me to a different place. American Dirt did exactly that. When I posted on Instagram Stories that I was reading it, I had several people send me messages saying that "the book had given them anxiety." I laughed it off, but when I was reading it, I totally understood. As a matter of fact, my anxiety was heightened all week last week, and I'm kind of thinking it was related.
As a mother, I think this book was so affecting to read because I was really able to get into Lydia's shoes. I was able to understand her motivation, her disregard for safety, her lack of thought sometimes - just to keep her son safe.
There has been some controversy surrounding the book because it is written by a non-Latin, non-Mexican, non-POC - Jeanine Cummins, a white woman. Even so, I think the story was thoughtfully told, and while there were some nuances that weren't perfect (especially if you already speak Spanish), I still think this is a book that can offer a unique perspective to the world. If nothing else, it can open your eyes to just how much illegal immigrants go through to cross the border. For some us, we are lucky enough to never have to experience that. But many of our families have experienced it in some way or another - leaving Mexico, leaving Cuba, or leaving one of the numerous other places where their lives have been put in mortal danger or the threat of their freedoms being revoked has somehow been held over their head. And to me, it doesn't matter who wrote something - a good piece of literature is one that makes you think, makes you feel, and makes you understand. And Cummins does that.
I highly recommend this book, but not without some warnings. It is a HEAVY read. There is loss, there are some seriously loaded topics which could be triggering for some. But if you've never read about the plight of an immigrant, or the desperation that could cause someone to come to the United States illegally, then I definitely recommend picking this book up.
Buy it on Bookshop here.
Buy it on Amazon here.
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