American Dirt (Oprah's Book Club)

American Dirt (Oprah's Book Club)

by Jeanine Cummins

Hardcover

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Overview

#1 New York Times Bestseller
OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK

Extraordinary.”
Stephen King

“This book is not simply the great American novel; it’s the great novel of las Americas. It’s the great world novel! This is the international story of our times. Masterful.”
—Sandra Cisneros

También de este lado hay sueños. On this side, too, there are dreams.

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.

Already being hailed as "a Grapes of Wrath for our times" and "a new American classic," Jeanine Cummins's American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Lauren Groff

The book's simple language immerses the reader immediately and breathlessly in the terror and difficulty of Lydia and Luca's flight. The uncomplicated moral universe allows us to read it as a thriller with real-life stakes. The novel's polemical architecture gives a single very forceful and efficient drive to the narrative. And the greatest animating spirit of the novel is the love between Lydia and Luca: It shines its blazing light on all the desperate migrants and feels true and lived…American Dirt was written with good intentions, and like all deeply felt books, it calls its imagined ghosts into the reader's real flesh.

Publishers Weekly

★ 11/25/2019

With this devastating yet hopeful work, Cummins (The Crooked Branch) breathes life into the statistics of the thousands fleeing their homelands and seeking to cross the southern border of the United States. By mere chance, Lydia Quixano Pérez and her eight-year-old son, Luca, survive the massacre of the rest of her family at her niece’s quinceañera by sicarios of the Los Jardineros cartel in Acapulco. Compounding the horror of the violence and loss is the fact that the cartel’s leader is a man that Lydia unwittingly befriended in her bookstore. Lydia and Luca flee north to the only refuge that she can imagine: her uncle’s family in Denver. North of Mexico City, all other sources of transportation become impossible, so mother and son must risk traveling atop La Bestia, the freight trains that are the only way to reach the border without being seen. They befriend two beautiful sisters—Soledad, 15, who is “a living miracle of splendor,” and Rebeca, 14—who have fled life-threatening circumstances in Honduras. As the quartet travel, they face terror on a constant basis, with danger possible from any encounter, but also compassion and occasionally even wonder. This extraordinary novel about unbreakable determination will move the reader to the core. (Jan.)

From the Publisher

Editors’ Choice from The New York Times Book Review
#1 Indie Next Pick for February
January 2020 Library Reads Pick

A Most-Anticipated Book of the Season/Year: The New York Times O, The Oprah Magazine VogueMarie ClaireReal SimpleElleEntertainment WeeklyWoman’s Day • Literary Hub • ParadeChicago TribuneThe Washington PostTimeFast CompanyForbesEsquireUSA Today • PopSugar • Bustle • The New York Times Book Review

American Dirt just gutted me, and I didn’t just read this book—I inhabited it….Everything about this book was so extraordinary. It’s suspenseful, the language is beautiful, and the story really opened my heart. I highly recommend it, and you will not want to put it down. It is just a magnificent novel.”
Oprah

American Dirt is a literary novel with nuanced character development and arresting language; yet, its narrative hurtles forward with the intensity of a suspense tale. Its most profound achievement, though, is something I never could’ve been told…American Dirt is the novel that, for me, nails what it’s like to live in this age of anxiety, where it feels like anything can happen, at any moment.”
Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air

“This tense, illuminating novel takes off like a rocket…”
People (Book of the Week)

“This novel is a heart-stopping story of survival, danger, and love…”
The New York Times

“I devoured the novel in a dry-eyed adrenaline rush….A profoundly moving reading experience.”
The Washington Post

“A heart-pounding, page-turning, can’t-put-it-down, stay-up-till-3 a.m., adrenaline-pumping story…that examines, with sensitivity, care, and complexity of thought, immense, soul-obliterating trauma and its aftermath.”
Los Angeles Times

“The story is masterfully composed of timeless elements: the nightmare logic of grief, the value of human kindness, the power of love to drive us to do the unimaginable…Cummins proves that fiction can be a vehicle for expanding our empathy.”
Time

“Destined to be a classic.”
Woman’s Day

“Heartfelt and hopeful, American Dirt is a novel for our times. Thrilling, epic, and unforgettable….”
Esquire

“Stunning…remarkable….A novel as of the zeitgeist as any, American Dirt is also an account of love on the run that will never lose steam.”
Vogue

“This one will tug at your heartstrings.”
Marie Claire

“The very best novel I’ve read about immigrants (and the best novel I’ve read over the past year)….American Dirt is being compared to The Grapes of Wrath, and the comparison is apt.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“Pulse-pounding.”
Chicago Tribune

"As literature, American Dirt is modern realism at its finest: a tale of moral challenge in the spirit of Theodore Dreiser wrapped inside a big-hearted social epic like The Grapes of Wrath. American Dirt is going to be the defining book of 2020.”
New York Journal of Books

“Propulsive.”
Elle

“I strive to write page-turners because I love to read them, and it’s been a long time since I turned pages as fast as I did with American Dirt. Its plot is tight, smart, and unpredictable. Its message is important and timely, but not political. Its characters are violent, compassionate, sadistic, fragile, and heroic. It is rich in authenticity. Its journey is a testament to the power of fear and hope and belief that there are more good people than bad.”
John Grisham

American Dirt is both a moral compass and a riveting read. I couldn’t put it down. I’ll never stop thinking about it.”
Ann Patchett, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Dutch House and Commonwealth

“Why do we read fiction? By immersing ourselves in the lives of fictional characters we gain emotional depth, breadth, and empathy. We become more human. I have never felt more changed—or challenged—by a book than I have by American Dirt. It’s truly a revelation.”
Elin Hilderbrand, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Summer of ’69

“Relevant, powerful, extraordinary. It is a remarkable combination of joy and terror, infused always with the restorative power of a mother's love and the endless human capacity for hope. I hope everyone reads it and is as moved by it as I was.”
Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone

“Riveting, timely, a dazzling accomplishment. Jeanine Cummins makes us all LIVE and BREATHE the refugee story.”
Julia Alvarez, author of In the Time of the Butterflies

American Dirt is an extraordinary piece of work, a perfect balancing act with terror on one side and love on the other. I defy anyone to read the first seven pages of this book and not finish it. The prose is immaculate, and the story never lets up. This book will be an important voice in the discussion about immigration and los migrantes; it certainly puts the lie to the idea that we are being besieged by ‘bad hombres.’ On a micro scale—the story scale, where I like to live—it’s one hell of a novel about a good woman on the run with her beautiful boy. It’s marvelous.”
Stephen King

“From its heart-stopping first sentence to its heart-shattering last, Cummins’s story of immigrants is just what we need now. Gritty yet sensitive, realistic yet hopeful, grand and granular, American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins is a Grapes of Wrathfor our times.”
Don Winslow, author of the New York Times bestseller The Border

“The most gripping thriller you’ll read this side of Marathon Man. This thing goes harder than a Lee Child novel and the writing sings. Deserves to be a Gone Girl-level hit.”
Joe Hill, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fireman and Heart-Shaped Box

“Jeanine Cummins writes with such grace, compassion, and precision that I could not stop reading.”
Erika Sánchez, author of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

“This is a book that’s both hard to read and hard to put down and will no doubt spark a lot of conversation.”
Real Simple

“Time to sink into American Dirt.”
Entertainment Weekly

“This book is not simply the great American novel; it’s the great novel of las Americas. It’s the great world novel! This is the international story of our times. Masterful.”
Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street

American Dirt is an urgent, blistering, unforgettable book. In her portrayal of Lydia and Luca, a mother and son forced to leave their Mexican home, Jeanine Cummins has given face to migrants everywhere who flee violence and near-certain death in search of only one thing: a chance at life. Beautifully written, thrilling in its propulsive force, American Dirt is a new American classic.”
Tara Conklin, author of the New York Times bestseller The Last Romantics

“The story of the migrant is the story of our times, and Jeanine Cummins is a worthy chronicler. At once intimate and epic, American Dirt is an exhilarating and beautiful book about parental love and human hope.”
Rumaan Alam, author of That Kind of Mother and Rich and Pretty

“Urgent and unforgettable, American Dirt leaps the borders of the page and demands attention, especially now.”
Sarah Blake, author of the New York Times bestsellers The Postmistress and The Guest Book

“A powerful, moving, and unforgettable read.”
Reyna Grande, author of The Distance Between Us

“This extraordinary novel about unbreakable determination will move the reader to the core.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Lydia and Luca are utterly believable characters, and their breathtaking journey moves with the velocity and power of one of those freight trains. Intensely suspenseful and deeply humane, this novel makes migrants seeking to cross the southern U.S. border indelibly individual.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

American Dirt may be the don’t-miss book of 2020.”
Booklist (starred review)

“Cummins is a skilled and empathetic chronicler of trauma and its aftermath…American Dirt is an immersive story, fueled by the elemental love of a mother for her son.”
Minnesota Star Tribune

“This gripping story of a mother and son on Mexico’s migrant trail combines humane intentions with propulsive, action-movie execution.”
The Guardian

“This is a book everyone should read.”
Woman & Home

“This powerful new novel promises readers a ride they’ll never forget.”
She Reads

Library Journal

★ 12/01/2019

In a book both timely and prodigiously readable, Cummins (The Crooked Branch) offers an unrelenting and terrifyingly you-are-there account of a Mexican mother and son fleeing to America after cartel violence takes their entire family. Lydia had been comfortably running a bookstore in Acapulco, but cartel violence is escalating, and the charming customer with whom she's become friendly turns out to be the jefe of the newest, cruelest cartel in town. When he's also the subject of her journalist husband's latest reveal-all profile, vengeance is swift, which puts Lydia and Luca on the run by bus and van, in migrant shelters, on top of a train, and, finally, in the remote and blazing American Southwest. Cummins expertly balances the brutality of the cartel, its scary omniscience, and Lydia's ululating fear with Lydia's passionate commitment to Luca's survival and the numerous small, brave acts of kindness she encounters that speed this duo north. VERDICT Here, it's the journey rather than the arrival on American dirt that counts, and readers will wonder whether they could ever have survived such a trek even as they realize that this could happen to them. An important book. [See Prepub Alert, 7/15/19.]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

Kirkus Reviews

★ 2019-10-14
This terrifying and tender novel is a blunt answer to the question of why immigrants from Latin America cross the U.S. border—and a testimony to the courage it takes to do it.

Cummins (The Crooked Branch, 2013, etc.) opens this propulsive novel with a massacre. In a pleasant Acapulco neighborhood, gunmen slaughter 16 people at a family barbecue, from a grandmother to the girl whose quinceañera they are celebrating. The only survivors are Lydia, a young mother, and her 8-year-old son, Luca. She knows they must escape, fast and far. Lydia's husband, Sebastián, is among the dead; he was a fearless journalist whose coverage of the local cartel, Los Jardineros, is the reason los sicarios were sent, as the sign fastened to his dead chest makes clear. Lydia knows there is more to it, that her friendship with a courtly older man who has become her favorite customer at the small bookstore she runs is a secret key, and that she and her son are marked for death. Cummins does a splendid job of capturing Lydia's and Luca's numb shock and then panic in the aftermath of the shootings, then their indomitable will to survive and reach el norte—any place they might go in Mexico is cartel territory, and any stranger might be an assassin. She vividly recounts their harrowing travels for more than 1,000 miles by bus, atop a lethally dangerous freight train, and finally on foot across the implacable Sonoran Desert. Peril and brutality follow them, but they also encounter unexpected generosity and heroism. Lydia and Luca are utterly believable characters, and their breathtaking journey moves with the velocity and power of one of those freight trains.

Intensely suspenseful and deeply humane, this novel makes migrants seeking to cross the southern U.S. border indelibly individual.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250209764
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication date: 01/21/2020
Series: Oprah's Book Club Series
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 638
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.50(d)

Customer Reviews