American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

How I Read It: Audiobook/Ebook

Dates Read: 2/26/20-2/28/20

How I Found It: Book of the Month

This book marks off the “NY Times Best Seller” badge on the 40 Book Reading Challenge from Once Upon a Book Club

Trigger warning: This book follows migrants traveling through Mexico to get to the United States. There is strong political talk, discussions of cartels/gangs, corruption, rape, assault, and extreme levels of murder. Be warned, this is a hard book to read, but also an important book to read. Read at your own discretion.

Look, you have to read this because it has Oprah’s stamp of approval. And as someone who was raised watching Drake and Josh, you must always respect Oprah! But seriously, Oprah picks books that have cultural significance upon a major historical moment (i.e. The Water Dancer about the underground railroad or The Poisonwood Bible about the Congo post-colonization), and this book is no exception.

In Tolupeca, Mexico, Lydia and her son, Luca, survive a mass shooting that led to the death of 16 family members. Believing that this was the work of the head of the cartel, Lydia takes Luca so that they can immigrate to the United States of America. We follow the two migrants as they move up Mexico, and we track what occurs for illegal immigrants to get to the US.

Personally, I have learned a lot about El Chapo thanks to my Netflix account. From everything I have learned about him, he was highly respected by his community for his philanthropy, but he also killed a lot of people, including innocents. And I never could understand why anyone could support him, until I realized that he is just as human as the rest of us, even if we say without ever being in the situations he was in that we would never have made those decisions. But this book kinda raises a good point: we are so obsessed with these powerful bad men that we forget about the people they killed, tortured, maimed, or threatened. And those people deserve our respect more than the people who are oppressing them. So this book is for the unsung heros who had to be heros for themselves.

I was born an American citizen, as were my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, so on and so forth. I never once had to question whether I could apply for college, get a job, or could live in my childhood home without repercussions. And there is a lot of ignorance that comes from never feeling unsure about my security, it was always something I just expected. I never really felt unsafe by my living conditions. But there are people who are afraid to walk out their door everyday because someone may be there with a gun, or that someone will track them to the ends of the Earth. And with all of that being said, I need to get hit on the top of the head with some truth in order for me to get out of this ignorance, which this book is determined to do. I am grateful to at least have some idea of what it is like, but of course I also wish it wasn’t true.

From the first moment I started listening to this book, I was all in. There was never a moment where I wasn’t trying to process more of this story (and the two sleepless nights fueled by nightmares are a testament to how hard I was trying to process what happened), and I was constantly trying to keep reading to find out what happens. The writing style is crazy good and it’s definitely worth taking the time to read. I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars (although I probably will never pick it up and reread it).

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!