American Dirt (Oprah's Book Club)

American Dirt (Oprah's Book Club)

by Jeanine Cummins


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#1 New York Times Bestseller



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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250209764
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication date: 01/21/2020
Series: Oprah's Book Club Series
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 181
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Jeanine Cummins is the author of the novels The Outside Boy and The Crooked Branch and the bestselling memoir A Rip in Heaven. She lives in New York with her husband and two children.

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American Dirt: A Novel 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 51 reviews.
Jennie McKain 22 days ago
couldnt put it down. I cared so much for the charecters, im sad its over
Peny McNeill 17 days ago
This book is impossible to put down and impossible to forget. Thank you
Jacquelyn Goodman 28 days ago
There are better written reviews about thls book than I could ever write. I found myself thinking about the characters long after I finshed it and that is exactly what a great book does, it stays with you long after the last page is read.
JOAN CLARK 29 days ago
You want to keep reading. Very touching book,especially in this time in our world of chaos !
carl schrader 26 days ago
every American adult needs to read this book very soon
Anonymous 22 days ago
This book is probably the most relevant book of our time. It is very well-written and realistic. You will be immediately captivated by the characters despite the haunting story. This is a MUST READ if you really want to understand the reality of what so many people could be experiencing RIGHT NOW. And yes, I get the controversy. This is a work of fiction. But a lot of people are not comfortable facing an ugly reality. Bravo to this courageous and very skilled writer. I'll read everything the author turns out in the future. And I'll read books about this subject written by all authors - not just those living through it. This is a story that needs to be told.
sue scheller 23 days ago
I felt liike I was on this journey with the characters. This is an important book especially during these times.
bmilano31 29 days ago
A great read. I don't know you had to be Spanish to write about Spain or Mexican to write Mexico or Black to write about slavery. I guess Charles Dickens had ghosts in his family since he write so convincingly about them in the classic A Christmas Carol. Cultural appropriation? What a load of garbage. It's an excellent book, a great read with a heartbreaking story. Period. Get over it people.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Sometimes you come across a book that will change you forever. This is that book! Thank you to the publisher, Flatiron Books, for giving me an advanced copy. This is the story of a Mexican mother and her eight-year-old son. They are on the run from a Mexican drug cartel and a vengeful drug lord, making their escape to the United States, el Norte. This story brings real life issues to light, it also shows love, friendship and the bond between a mother and son. All the characters in this book were so well developed that I felt an attachment to every one of them. They all had suffered inconceivable hardships and overcame extraordinary trauma. I have never felt so many emotions while reading a book before and I couldn’t get enough. I could not put this book down because I felt so attached to these characters that I needed to know what happened next, I needed to know if they would be ok. The author brings you into the mind of each character so that you actually feel their pain. She did a great job jumping between the way an adult would think, what a mother would do for her son and then the way an 8-year-old boy assesses the situation. The way that Cummins described certain scenes was so engrossing, I felt like I was on the journey with them. I was running beside La Bestia and grabbing on for dear life, while I was actually about to fall out of my chair with anticipation! American dirt is raw, insulting, embarrassing and heart wrenching. If it did not make me angry or make me feel uncomfortable it would not have been as good. This is exactly what it was intended to be, to make people understand that migrants are human. This story makes us see that these people are people, individuals with backgrounds and reasons for risking their lives to get to a better place. They are our fellow humans. There were so many parts in this book that made me gasp or cry because I could not imagine being in their shoes. EVERYONE needs to read this book! I am still in awe, just staring at it. I feel like I just went on an intense journey with these characters and they are now and will forever be a part of my life. I will never forget this story.
DG_Reads 3 months ago
I was super excited to win a copy of AMERICAN DIRT by Jeanine Cummins from @yaaas_or_nahs_books. After hearing how good it was from multiple trusted friends, this was a book that I dropped everything else to read! AMERICAN DIRT begins with heartbreak. Lydia and her son Luca are in the bathroom at their family’s home when gunmen come in and slaughter the entire family leaving only Lydia and Luca alive in hiding. Lydia has had a good life with a husband she loves, a close knit family and a bookstore she loves to run, but she must now leave this all behind with the clothes on her back and what she can quickly gather from her parents’ house because she knows she will not be safe is she goes back home. As the story progresses and Luca and Lydia are on the run, heading for the north where they hope to find safety, the reasons why Lydia finds herself hunted by a drug cartel begin to come clear. Lydia’s husband was a reporter who told stories that sometimes put him in the cross-hairs and Lydia herself unknowingly found herself in the middle of the story as well. As Luca and Lydia make their way north with other migrants seeking a better life, their travels are full of danger and Lydia can constantly feel the pressure of those still on the hunt for her. I knew to expect an excellent read, but even so I was surprised how quickly I was hooked into the story. AMERICAN DIRT is not always an easy read – it begins with gunfire and a massacre in just the first few pages after all! The trek north requires taking risks and deciding who to trust and who not to. In addition to the inherent violence in the story there are trigger warnings for sexual assault as well. Lydia and Luca are lucky because they come from a family which had resources that Lydia was able to tap into before leaving Acapulco so in some ways they are better off than many of their fellow travelers. This does not however make their journey an easy one by any means! Along the way they make friends and hear stories from other migrants from even further away than Mexico, all looking for a better life in the only way they know how. Immigration is such a hot button topic right now and I felt that this book really gave a face to one story of a couple people seeking to find hope in the north for a better life. It is hard to summarize what I loved about this book. I loved the relationship between Lydia and Luca and their loving and generous spirits. Something that surprised me about this book was how much of a page-turner it was with some aspects that really felt like a thriller which of course I love! In all, I can summarize by saying that I highly recommend this beautiful book! I can’t wait to see what Jeanine Cummins brings us in the future!
MatteaLC 3 months ago
In today’s political climate, this novel could not be more appropriate, in order to put faces on those migrants that we see on the news every night, as their children are ripped out of their arms and sent to internment camps. This is an in depth account of the tragedies that prompt their perilous journeys, across thousands of miles of desert and mountain ranges, to reach a better life. This is the story of Lydia and her small son Luca, the survivors of a brutal killing of her entire family, by a violent Mexican cartel. It’s about the danger, the brutal conditions, the violent people that they must endure, on their way to a better life. It’s also about the friendships and relationships that they make along the way, as they share the little that they have with strangers, while reluctant to trust them. They may be the enemy. This story will hopefully encourage us to look at their faces and see where we all started from. Just people, trying to find a better life and fulfill their dreams. Definitely the best book that I have read this year. I wish I could give it more than five stars. My thanks to #FlatIronBooks #JeanineCummins for the Arc of #AmericanDirt All opinions are my own.
gmcootie 3 months ago
Amazing isn’t a big enough word for American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. It’s the kind of book you can’t book down, can’t stop reading, but also the kind of book you have to put down every once in a while and take a break, because it is so intense, so overwhelming, so affecting. Lydia and her family have a good life in Acapulco. She’s a bookseller, and one of her customers, Javier, becomes a friend she can discuss books with. But Acapulco is becoming more dangerous each day because of the cartels. And then Lydia and her journalist husband, Sebastián, discover that Javier is the jefe of Los Jardineros, one of the worst Mexican drug cartels. And when Sebastián writes an exposé on Javier, he and the rest Lydia's family except for she and her eight-year old son, Luca are brutally murdered. Lydia has two choices: stay and be murdered, too or try to escape Acapulco before Javier finds them or travel to el norte, the United States and make a new life for herself and Luca. And the journey begins. No matter your politics or past experiences, you cannot but find what Lydia, Luca and the other migrants they encounter on the way heartbreaking. I couldn’t relate to any of the events, but I could feel the fear and hopelessness and anxiety and the staggering bravery and determination needed to try to escape this life for a better one. I was lucky enough to receive an advance audiobook copy of American Dirt from Macmillan Audio. It is read by Yareli Arizmendi, and she is the perfect narrator for this story. Her pace is slow and calm and measured and completely conveys the terror and poignancy and drama. Thanks to Macmillan Audio for giving me the opportunity to experience this wonderful story. All opinions in this review are my own.
CapriciousNiteOwl 3 months ago
5 Brilliant Stars!!! This book is a MUST-READ for everyone! Jeanine Cummins wrote a suspenseful and a heartbreaking story, a story that will stay with me for a very long time. This book had my heart pounding and tears rolling down my face, and I am so very impressed with the author’s ability to write such a timely novel with so much grace and honesty. American Dirt is a powerful and an important story and it is easily one of my favorite books of all time. So yes, the hype is real! Now do yourself a favor and read this beautiful book. Thank you NetGalley, Flatiron Books, and the author for providing me with an ARC copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
jeff mcfadden 23 days ago
Puts a human face to the reasons behind migration, and illustrates the long, hard, often dangerous trips people across this planet face everyday to build a safe & stable life away from their homelands
sjillis 26 days ago
Somewhere between the incredible early reviews and buzz about this book and the more recent backlash and criticism lies the truth about AMERICAN DIRT, and that’s the position I choose to write from. Judging it just at face value, AMERICAN DIRT is a compelling, suspenseful story about a young mother who sees her husband and family murdered in her mother’s backyard and must flee Mexico with her young son and little else more than they can carry on their backs. Over the course of their journey, they make some good friends (Soledad and Rebeca), but are also hounded by some they can’t trust (Lorenzo). Whether author Jeanine Cummins’ whiteness disqualifies her as the teller of this story, whether Flatiron Books marketed the novel into a bestseller at the expense of other, better novels...well, I’ll leave that for other reviewers. I’ve chosen to treat it as an artifact without considering its provenance.
mainlinebooker 3 months ago
Blurbs have covered the stratosphere heralding the publication of this novel. I am here to tell you that these comments are not hyperbole; all of them are well deserved. Simplistically, it is the story of one woman's heart wrenching flight from Mexico with her young son to El Norte to escape the cartel and its spiteful drug lord. The horror of the first chapter alone is enough to put one over the edge. However, it is the prose and the dramatic tension throughout that propel the dynamism of the novel. Cummins shines a lens on our own biases lumping all migrants together, and helps us understand the harrowing ordeal that they encounter to try and escape persecution. How sobering to think that she must have written this a few years before the issues that confront us today were not staring us in the face painfully day after day after day. It is also the story of a mother's deep love for her child that tugged at my heart's drawstrings with an aching hurt. This is a fabulous book for book groups but you might want a lot of wine to get you through the discussion
CRSK 3 months ago
“On this side, too, there are dreams.” Beginning at the end, or perhaps more accurately – after the end of the story, for a change. In the Author’s Note at the end of the story, Cummins writes: ”As I traveled and researched, even the notion of the American dream began to feel proprietary. There’s a wonderful piece of graffiti on the border wall in Tijuana that became, for me, the engine of this whole endeavor. I photographed it and made it my computer wallpaper. Anytime I faltered or felt discouraged, I clicked back to my desktop and looked at it: ‘También de este lado hay sueños.’ - “On this side, too, there are dreams.” While there is much about this that seems painfully current, a story I would not be shocked to hear about through some Breaking News report which seem to occur much more often lately, it would be easy to forget the news is most often comprised of facts and figures and – especially lately – to be slanted to one side, politically, or the other. But this story is filled with a truth that needs, deserved to be shared, one that fuels the heart and soul of this book. It is a story about people enduring the worst, people who are so desperate for a life that doesn’t involve having to worry every day, every minute about the next minute, that they leave their home, friends and family for a dream. A dream that may, in reality, become their worst nightmare. The opening chapter grabbed me and pulled me in, an event occurs as this begins that prompts a mother and her young son to leave their home in Acapulco to escape the men who killed the other members of their family. Desperately anxious to make their way to a place of safety they need to head to the United States, but there are few people that she feels that she can turn to for help. They’re on their own. There’s an edge to this story that kept me reading, I cared about these people and wanted to see their dream come true, a dream for a life free of the sort of dangers that they’d fled. I wanted to see them reach a place of peace, and to see the possibility that their dreams might come true. A very timely read that moved me, shook me to the core, this is filled with heartache, as well as humanity, the kindness of strangers. While there is a struggle for their survival, and heartache, it is the fierce determination of a mother determined to give her child the best life she can, along with some exceptional, inspired writing, that moves this story along at an almost unputdownable pace. This is already in the works for a film, which will be brought to you by Imperative Entertainment, and yet, this book hasn’t even been published, yet. Do yourself a favour and read it first. Many thanks for the ARC provided by Flatiron Books
KarlieSch 3 months ago
"On this side, too, there are dreams." Keeping in mind this was a work of fiction, American Dirt is a fantastic book and the hype is well deserved. It's insightful and begins to shed some light on the treacherous journey that many Mexicans and Central Americans have faced, and still face today. While it was a somewhat quick and easy read, it's emotionally tough and draining.  At one point, I just hit my limit on the exhaustion and the hopelessness the characters are feeling, and I started crying. I do hope this story by Jeanine Cummins opens the eyes of some far would you go to save your child's life? It's important to note that this book takes place in 2016 or 2017, as well as, was researched and written during the years 2013-2017 so does not touch on the more recent changes along the border, including the detention centers. In addition, the main character Lydia mentions numerous times how lucky she is because not only does she have access to a large amount of money along the way, but she is a Mexican resident so doesn't have to fear Mexican immigration (as much) as others from Central & South America do. The experience of the supplemental characters, Soledad and Rebeca, is probably more accurate to what many migrants are facing today, coming from Honduras, Guatemala, Venezuela, etc. 
EmmabBooks 3 months ago
A book that will open your eyes, break your heart and compel you to keep reading Lydia has a good life in Mexico with her husband and son. One sunny day her extended family are all shot dead by the local drugs cartel; a twist of fate sparing Lydia and her son. This is the tale of a mother and son trying to reach the USA, where they hope to be safe from the wide-reaching powers of the cartels. Lydia is 32 and her son 8 years old when they witness the massacre of their extended family at a BBQ. From that moment Lydia’s life changes from being a bookshop owner, wife and mother with all the normal everyday irritations of life, to being a migrant fleeing for her, and her son’s, life. This is the story of their journey of over 2,500 miles, where they meet people who offer them help and support, and others who offer only misery and death and where Lydia and Luca face fears and challenges they could never have imagined. Although this book tells the harrowing stories of why people leave a home they love, and risk everything to reach another country where they have no certainty of a welcome, the narrative focuses on ways to survive and carry on in the hope of a better future. The research that must have gone into this book is staggering. So many personal stories, and details of the migrant route from Acapulco to the USA, are incorporated into Lydia and Luca’s story. The book is beautifully written, the words easy to read – even though the content is hard. Jeanine Cummins avoids graphic violence in her writing, though the reader is made fully aware of the violence and hardships going on throughout the book. 5*s for this remarkable book, which has opened my eyes to why migrants risk their lives for a uncertain future, and made me appreciate the peace and safety of my world. A book that will break your heart, but also compel you to keep reading.
MKF 3 months ago
Stunning and heartbreaking. Lydia had no idea who Javier was when he first visited her bookstore and charmed his way into her daily life. Little did she know that he would order the assassination of her entire family- save her son Luca-in revenge for an article written by her husband Sebastian that led to a horrible thing for him. He's a ruthless cartel head who has caused the murder of innumerable people in and around Acapulco and now Lydia and Luca are on the run. Anyone who thinks the journey through Mexico to the US is easy should think again. Soledad and Rebecca are teenaged sisters who have fled their home because Soledad came to the attention of another horrible man who raped her repeatedly and then wanted to start on Rebecca as well. These four, along with a variety of others, band together to ride the beast- the trains that travel through Mexico to the US, and then to cross the desert. It's an amazing story of devotion, heartbreak, grief, and so many other things. It's beautifully written and pulls you though the vast emotions of a woman and child who have lost everything and are fleeing for their survival. If there's a flaw it's with the afterword; I understand why the author and no doubt the publisher included it but it is unnecessary and to my mind lessened the punch of the last pages of the novel. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC. This is one that's worthy of the praise it has received- it's a terrific read.
Guy Giubilato 10 days ago
Well-told story about migrant journeys to the USA. Interesting throughout - I did not want it to end. I was reluctant at first to read a book about immigration hardship. Truthfully, I did because Oprah endorsed it and I usually like her recommendations. Plus, I happened to hear a radio interview of the author. She is impressive and sought to tell the story as close to non-fiction as possible. Great job!
Beth King 18 days ago
Vicki Saia 23 days ago
I liked this book. It is very well written.
ryanphoffmann88 7 days ago
American Dirt is a great novel and dread that you cant put down, the characters , including Lydia the protagonist, and stiry are done very well.
schwez 10 days ago
The heartbreak of this story is that it tells a tale of people who could well be very real. The tragedy of "illegal immigration" is that countless migrants die being denied freedom and safety which is the birth right of every human. This compelling story will stay with you long after you finish.