My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - 3 days (in and out as able)
Pages - 400
Publisher - Tinder Press
Source - Review copy
Blurb from Goodreads
Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.
Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.
Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?
American Dirt will leave readers utterly changed. It is a literary achievement filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page. It is one of the most important books for our times.
For Lydia and Luca (the main characters) life as they know it is about to change forever. The opening chapter had me holding my breath and where we meet Lydia and Luca and the event that changes everything for them. The event kicks off their desperate journey to try and escape from Acapulco, turning into migrants desperate to escape to safety and all they endure and face to survive and gain their freedom with their lives.
The amount of controversy this book has caused. It is a FICTIONAL account of two humans, a mother and son, going from a pretty good life of luxury to losing everything and becoming migrants. Some people are livid at the author, some are livid at the portray of migrants in the book, have a look online and you will see. I myself got some messages because I was just reading the book, I cannot comment on the upset and hurt of others, only how I found the book itself.
Some of the chapters are harrowing, I actually caught my breath a few times reading the horrors some of the characters experience. Abuse, violence, rape, extortion, murder, danger it is unimaginable sitting in your warm safe home reading, albeit a fictional account but created after her own research. There are many books cited that Cummin's looked into during her years of research, I absolutely will be reading some of them and the true life accounts. It is heartbreaking and soul destroying to think of what some of our fellow humans have to endure to try and get to safety, to create a life free of danger and those "humans" they encounter, exploiting and abusing them. If this book helps to shine a light on the very real horrors out there and gets people talking, reading the real stories surely that can only be a good thing. I am mortified at how ignorant and unaware of things going on out in the real world you often don't know about because it hasn't touched your own life.
I found myself on an emotional roller coaster reading this and some of the people who have messaged me talked about the real accounts of life for migrants, devastating. Any book that helps people become aware of real life situations and issues out there, spreading awareness, remember this is a fictional account but of something that is very real in our lifetime, I think it is a good thing.
The book itself takes us between the journey they are experiencing and flips back to the before, how they came onto the radar of the cartel and examines of course the actual journey they undertake. I think whether you love or hate it, are angered or shocked (for whatever reason) no one can deny it is getting people talking and spreading awareness. This is A FICTIONAL ACCOUNT but it is getting people talking, thinking and debating about very real and serious issues, 4/5 for me this time.