American Dirt

Cummins, Jeanine

  42 Reviews

One minute it is a happy family barbecue, the next, courtesy of Los Jardineros, the local cartel, a massacre. There are only two survivors: Lydia Perez and her eight-year-old son Luca. To escape the same fate as the rest of the family they must leave Acapulco and flee north to the US.

Thrust into a harrowing journey, they join forces with two young sisters, Soledad and Rebeca from Honduras, and together they will face all the terror and hope visited upon migrants seeking refuge from their homelands.

Poignant and deeply moving, this is a momentous and never to be forgotten story.



Everyone "enjoyed" the book - harrowing but unable to put it down.
AUCK 014
Not everyone read this book in our group, but those who did found it very gripping. At a time when migrant stories in America are so front of mind, this was a reminder of what that means for individuals forced to flee their home and country, for whatever reason. We were mindful of some of the criticism of the author's authenticity, but that did not detract from the narrative. It was certainly a page turner!
A gripping read - a view of desperation that leads people to leave everything behind for hugely different reasons.
We all thought this was a great read, it had good characters, plot and was quite topical. It was harrowing and compelling, a book we couldn't put down and deserving of a second read. The reader could feel the grief, fear, uncertainty, terror and desperation as the pair escape the cartels. In spite of some negative comments which some of us found on the internet, we felt we learnt a lot from this book and are keen to follow up by reading some firsthand experiences.
CHCH 523
Liked by all. Found quite a lot to discuss including how the book was received by Mexicans and how the author was critiqued.
NAP 032
Our group enjoyed the book, created varied discussion, and all felt sad for the migrants trying to escape the Cartel. Compelling enough to want to keep on reading.
AUCK 456
Everyone "enjoyed" the book, as much as you can say you enjoyed such a harrowing story. Many people found they could only read in short bursts as the story overwhelmed them, but was so compelling they had to continue.
CHCH 155
We found this read harrowing and yet compelling. The present situation (05/23) on today's news highlights migrant's plight. The reality was that much more understood.
CHCH 548
Great read, quite eye opening to the struggles in Mexico and the cartels. Group all felt let down with the ending though, quite underwhelming.
NELS 093
This book really generated a lot of discussion beyond the book. Topics such as borders, rights to storytelling, marketing of books, awareness of the topic. Half of us couldn't put it down, the other half persevered to finish it. Not light reading.
An excellent read, with wide discussion on journalists, borders ( N.Z's so clearly defined), beauty, and families. One of our most successful selections.
UPMO 002
A compelling read.
CHCH 043
A really good vivid read though rather harrowing. Some discussion of the criticism the book attracted in the United States but we felt we were too far removed to judge.
CHCH 240
A brilliant read but hard to call it enjoyable! A fascinating eye-opener to what we hear about in the news of the refugees fleeing South American countries and the horror of the drug-cartels. Sheer determination and a mother's love shine through during the horrific days of their journey to escape. Well worth reading - and it kept us on the edge of our seats until the end!
TAUR 059
All in the group were totally engrossed from the moment they picked up the book and all found the characters compelling. We all were both horrified and moved by all the migrants had to endure and felt the writing of the journey and its characters and their particular hardships & stories was excellent. There were a couple of points raised about the likelihood of certain parts of the story but as a book of fiction we didnt feel it detracted from the overall story. Some discussion on US immigration and the possibilities for illegal migrants in the US.
GORE 007
Such a moving account of a mother's love for her son against enormous challenges. A perspective of the immigrant issue in the Americas that tells a side of the story we had not encountered.
Best book we've read since joining BDS. Tough topic, well-written and nail biting til the end. Highly recommended by us!
NELS 040
A winner with our group!
A very gripping book which highlights the dire reality faced by refugees fleeing for their safety.
AUCK 399
We were all exhausted after reading this book, so well-written and so frightening. Several admitted to tears, and we were all aware of how many more migrants there will be in the future. One of our better books, but as we looked at what we have read over the years, it is a standout.
Majority of the group rated this gripping thriller highly. Powerfully written and thought provoking story that stays with you.
DRUM 001
Everyone enjoyed the book - including husbands! The questions generated great discussion amongst members. A big tick all round.
Vivid and compelling. Two of our 10 members did not finish the book, not because they disliked it but because the story was so distressing. All agreed that this was a powerfully written book.
CHCH 422
The group felt this title read like a movie. They felt it was an engaging story but thought it was a book that dealt with issues rather than creating in depth characters.
Another successful Zoom meeting. This book was described as a compelling story, gripping, tense, descriptive and informative. It wound fact and fiction together effectively. A lot of discussion, including the huge negative criticism of the author and book. We wondered if there was a certain amount of 'author envy' here, with this fiction story of the migrants and cartel being so popular. We all 'enjoyed' ( if that is the right word) the book and gave it a high score. Recommend it.
CHCH 512
Wow!! Hard to put down. Excellent very sad read. Loved the characters, and would love to see it as a movie.
CHCH 077
This was a book that the whole group enjoyed- although maybe that isn't the best word to use considering how much of a nail-biter it is and how the story told is a reflection of some people's grim reality as refugees seeking a safe place to live.
CHCH 509
6 out of 7 enjoyed this book. We found it gripping and it led to much of our own research. We were aware of the debate around the book but decided to read the book and then engage with the debate. We felt that this needed to be taken as a work of fiction and not viewed as a realistic portrayal of migrants, with the majority of migrants not having the financial means that Lydia had. We did question the believability of the relationship between Lydia and the head honcho (can't recall his name). We really enjoyed the relationship between Lydia and Luca.
Very popular with everyone. A page turner. Couldn't put it down.
AUCK 037
8 out of 9 thought this a great read, a gripping story. A realistic portrayal of an escape from a country where the government is less powerful than the gangs and cartels.
WELL 134
The effect of drug cartels on people's lives, and in this story, was disturbing to some of the group. We couldn't understand the controversy which erupted when the book was first published, as we thought it was well-written with a great understanding of what migrants have to endure. Good characters and plot and very readable.
RICH 005
Seldom is a book enjoyed by the whole group, but this one was! Very enlightening and won't be easily forgotten.
ROTO 015
We really liked that it was different - no idea what was going to happen. Well-written and suspenseful. It opened all our eyes as to what's going on in USA/Mexico.
MAST 008
Great discussion and everyone "enjoyed" the book. Well-written with entirely believable characters. The kindness of strangers was noted in the midst of a harrowing journey. It humanises migrants.
An amazingly written book!!
A really interesting story and real characters. We all felt invested in their lives and wanted positive outcomes for them. Really recommend this read.
CHCH 479
Very well-written - a great novel. Excellent commentary on what is happening for refugees in Mexico/US.
WANG 011
This book provoked a much more vigorous discussion than usual. Most of enjoyed it but several didn't. It is a thriller, therefore it is easy to see that parts of it are improbable, but in a novel of this sort these parts may be forgiven. We all agreed that it gives a human picture of Trump's wall and the stream of Central American immigrants which the television more or less dehumanises with its unimaginable scale. The criticism of the book by Mexican American authors was felt to be partly justified, but also partly jealousy and sour grapes.
Everyone read it, and enjoyed the story. There was some cynicism about it being written with a Netflix (or similar) series in mind, with grand drama and visuals. This was in part from our discussing the controversy around the non-indigenous writer writing a Mexican story. Good discussion about immigrants - including in NZ.
ISLA 001
Would encourage other book groups to have a read - an interesting novel. Maybe ended too abruptly.
CAMB 007
Great book. Everybody enjoyed this and could recommend it. We really liked how it made us aware of a situation that none of us knew about. Great to see it from the angle of the migrants.
AUCK 348
All but one of our book club enjoyed this book and found it gripping. The other found the beginning a bit "cheesy" and didn't get far in. Quite a simple writing style, but an eye opener. Discussed the controversy about telling other people's stories.