American Dirt – Jeanine Cummins

Lydia and her eight-year-old son, Luca are on the run for their lives.
After their entire family is killed by the largest (and most dangerous) cartel in Alcpulco Lydia knows that the only way she can save her son is to get them to El Norte.

If there’s one good thing about terror, it’s that it’s more immediate than grief.

What makes this story so powerful is the fact that Lydia and Luca are just. like. us.
Their story didn’t begin with exploding cars or ominous notes warning them to “get out of town or else…” It began with two college kids falling in love, starting a family, and building a life in a city they loved. Lydia an Sebastian watched as the government fell at the feet of the incoming drug cartels, but they never thought their family would be like the ones plastered all over the news. Yes, they knew the cartels had moved into their city, and yes, they knew that despite their gates and their closed shutters, their neighborhood had been infiltrated, that Sebastian would have to be careful about how much he reported in his articles…but they had their family and dozens of friends they could rely on if they needed help. Now? That group included only two people:
Lydia and Luca. Everyone else was dead.

Cummins has written an intentionally human tale of trauma, disparity, and love.
This book is not political; it isn’t a weapon to be used against your xenophobic in-laws. It is a demonstration of the surprising capacity we have to absorb pain and fear in the face of death. American Dirt is a testament to the ability of the human heart to beat harder and with more empathy after it has been obliterated by tragedy.

I truly hope that Luca, Lydia, and the migrants they befriend on their journey will cause you to stop for just a moment and recognize all that you have to be grateful for.

I hope their stories will make you want to hear more stories like theirs.

Above all, I hope this is a story you will remember.

Listen on LIBRO.FM The soothing calm of the narrator’s voice is the perfect contrast to the horrors Lydia and Luca are faced with on their journey.

Content Warnings:
Physical Abuse – Several people Lydia and Luca meet on their way to the US are fleeing abuse. Many women are exposed to an increase in this abuse as they are asked to “pay” for their journey with their bodies.

Drugs – Primarily discussed in relation to how the cartels rose to (and abused) their power

Violence – In the first chapter, Lydia and Luca lose their entire family in what can only be called a massacre, but that is not the end of the violence they encounter. While Cumnins hands these instances with extreme care, some scenes may be difficult for more sensitive readers.

Recommended Age: 17+ due to violence and emotional trauma