About the Book:
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 listeners utterly changed. It is a literary achievement filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity. 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’ American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.
“From now on, when we board, each time we board, I will remind you to be terrified,’ she says. ‘And you remind me, too: this is not normal.’
‘This is not normal.’ Soledad nods.”
I have put off writing my thoughts about this book because I needed to take some time after finishing. All I can say is, bravo to the author and the audiobook narrator! This is a painful but beautiful and fascinating tale of human connection and survival. A perfect story for our current times! Yes I am fully aware of the internet controversy surrounding Ms. Cummins but the book is lovely and savage and a must-read for all, in my opinion.
Lydia is a middle-class bookstore owner from Mexico City, whose husband Sebastián is a journalist. After he bravely publishes an exposé of the local drug cartel, Lydia’s family is brutally murdered in retaliation. So begins this breathless and stunning book, and Lydia and her young son’s dangerous journey to “El Norte”.
This is not a deeply philosophical book but instead is written in a fast-paced yet deeply empathetic way so that the reader feels the background and experiences of the story’s characters. Lydia is ill-equipped to make the dangerous and illegal trip to the United States but she has no choice in order to escape Javier, her one-time friend and the vicious leader of the drug cartel.
“Lydia is constantly reminded that her education has no purchase here, that she has no access to the kind of information that has real currency on this journey. Among migrants, everyone knows more than she does. How do you find a coyote, make sure he’s reputable, pay for your crossing, all without getting ripped off? ”
Yareli Arizmendi’s narration is nothing short of spectacular. Her voice was compelling and added another dimension to this story. I highly recommend the audiobook, it is definitely one of my top favorites of the year.
I will never forget each character, each story, and the vivid portrait of each of the migrant’s lives. This book was truly a journey itself and I urge every book lover to give this one a try! Check it out from your library, use your Audible credit, or borrow from a friend if you can. And as brutal as the book can be, the ending was neither cliched or rushed and felt like the perfect conclusion to Lydia and her son’s journey.
“So he’s unaware of the way Newton’s third law can resonate in a place like this: for every wickedness, there is an equal and opposite possibility of redemption.”