Is there a more hyped book on the planet right now? I don’t think so. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins is all over the place and for good reason. The subject matter is timely and important. The author does an excellent job painting a heartbreaking picture of what these migrants experience while fleeing horrific situations.
Here is where I will stumble to put my feelings of what I just read into coherent thoughts: Saying that I enjoyed this book sounds odd because how can you enjoy such a distressing story? I really felt conflicted while reading. I was suddenly very aware of my cozy bed, my safe home, my lack of worry. This story is fiction, but it is covered in harsh and painful truth. Unsettling is the perfect word to describe this book.
Here’s where I get nit-picky and explain why I didn’t this book five stars: Overall the story was a little drawn out. A few times I struggled to stay interested. Was that just me? Perhaps. But I don’t think anything would be taken away from the story if it was a little shorter. I enjoyed the beginning of the book best, the way the author went back and forth between Lydia and Luca’s current struggles and their previous pre-migrant lives. I liked reading about Lydia’s friendship with Javier and their time together in the bookstore. I wanted more of that, wanted more of Lydia struggling with their relationship later. About halfway through, Javier almost disappears from the story and as strange as it sounds that was disappointing to me. As the book progressed we lost some of Lydia’s internal struggles once her external struggles became too overwhelming.
This book is eye-opening and made me realize how ignorant I am about migrant and immigration issues. Even with my nit-picky complaints, this is a book that will stick with me for months and months to come. A huge thank you to Flat Iron Books for this advanced copy.
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
Published by Flat Iron Books, January 21, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Where I read: in the cafe of a golf course
Stephenie’s Goodreads Rating: 4 out of 5 stars