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American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins Book Review

Reasons For Reading This Book:

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins was put on Oprah's Book Club list in 2020 and I have always wanted to read it. When it was first put on the book list I was still in college and had access to the school library where I almost checked it out multiple times. I never went through with it because it was such a long book I did not know if I could commit to it and finish it by the due date. Since then it has still been on my to read list, but I never got around to reading it until I was at a thrift store and they had a copy. I was at a point in my life where I had plenty of time to read and fully immerse myself in the story. I feel as though I read this book on my own time and when I was supposed to read it. 

Content of This Book:

Lydia Quixano PĂ©rez is bookstore owner living in the city of Acapulco, Mexico. She is a dedicated and loving mother to her only son, Luca and a supportive wife to her journalist husband. Even with the drug cartels slowly starting to take over her city, Lydia is living comfortably until she becomes friends with Javier, the jefe of the newest drug cartel. After Lydia's husband publishes a tell-all profile on Javier, Lydia and her family are no longer safe. Following a tragic event Lydia and Luca are forced to flee and are on the run. They find themselves no longer 'comfortable' and are now riding the trains to safety in the north, the United States. Along the journey they experience and meet interesting characters as they flee to safety from Javier. 

What I Liked About This Book:

I found this book really draining to read. It was exhausting. When I chose to read this book I was in need of a thought provoking read that is why I am saying this in the liked section. I found it to be fiction yet based on the reality of what it is like to migrate from the south to the north. It brought up the conversation of boarder protrol and why these immigrants are fighting to get to America. It makes you think about it from a different perspective that isn't always portrayed in the media. There was a good mix between the reminiscing of the past to bring the reader up to date and also providing the reader the action and roughness of the current travels. 

In high school I read a few book about immigrants leaving their homeland to move to a safer country. Other than that I have limited reading experience on this topic and have little to compare it to. I can not say if it is accurate, but as I was reading it and before I read about the controversy this book sparked, I felt like it was an accurate representation. 

The writing and vivid descriptions were phenomenal. It was like watching a movie. I could easily picture how it felt and what it looked like to jump onto the moving trains. I think the denseness and length of this book comes from the heavy and vidid details for every little thing. This is a selling point for the book. Without the descriptions the reader would not have been as captivated and visually interested in the story. 

With this being a long and dense book I expect tremendous character development and growth. Jeanine Cummins did not disappoint on this portion of the novel. The reader gets to see and experience the character growth of both Lydia and Luca, along with other supporting characters. The reader becomes familiar with how the characters may react in a situation and this shows that the author has correctly portrayed who they are to the reader. Reading the inner thoughts of both Luca and Lydia provided the reader with an understanding for who these characters truly are.  

I love the adventure aspect of this novel. I do not often read an action or adventure type novel like this. Not only was it an educational plot, but also a very active and thrilling plot. There was the perfect amount of action packed scenes, loving scenes, and gritty hard to read scenes. I applaud Jeanine for her ability to write a compelling novel with all of these aspects. 

What I Disliked About This Book: 

I felt at times that the author added too many little stories or conversations that did not add depth or substance to the plot or help to progress the story lines. In addition to the descriptions this could be a reason for why the novel is so long. It is hard to say if this is a like or a dislike, but I just so badly wanted to know the ending that I wish it wasn't so long so I could get to the end faster. This is totally a personal dislike but as someone who does not know Spanish, I found it confusing when something was said in Spanish and not translated to English. There were times when it was done, but there were others when a response was given in English but that was the only context given to what was said in Spanish. 

Would I Recommend This Book?

When recommending this book I would be selective of who I recommend it to. For example, I would not recommend this to someone who loves a steamy romance novel. I would recommend this book to someone who can appreciate character development, an action packed novel, and who has the time and energy to put into this long and dense book. With that being said I think that if you want to read this book and it has been on your list like it was mine, I say go for it. I can only hope that you enjoy it was much as I did.

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