Title: American Dirt
Authors: Cummins, Jeanine
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 378
Year: 2020
Language: English
Description: 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.
Categories: Fiction, Contemporary, Grief/loss, Social commentary/perspectives, Mexico, America, 2021 Titles


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By: AUCK 399 2022-04-29 11:39:23
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.

By: WHITBY 005 2022-04-20 18:29:58
Majority of the group rated this gripping thriller highly. Powerfully written and thought provoking story that stays with you.

By: DRUM 001 2022-03-07 10:34:00
Everyone enjoyed the book - including husbands! The questions generated great discussion amongst members. A big tick all round.

By: PUKEKO 001 2022-02-26 17:47:27
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.

By: HAMIL 014 2021-11-15 14:03:49
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.

By: CHCH 422 2021-11-15 10:30:38
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.

By: CHCH 512 2021-10-18 13:25:10
Wow!! Hard to put down. Excellent very sad read. Loved the characters, and would love to see it as a movie.

By: CHCH 077 2021-10-03 20:57:50
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.

By: CHCH 509 2021-08-31 13:53:45
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.

By: WANAK 005 2021-08-25 10:01:10
Very popular with everyone. A page turner. Couldn't put it down.

By: AUCK 037 2021-08-06 13:03:33
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.

By: WELL 134 2021-08-02 09:34:15
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.

By: RICH 005 2021-07-09 13:23:04
Seldom is a book enjoyed by the whole group, but this one was! Very enlightening and won't be easily forgotten.

By: ROTO 015 2021-06-28 10:17:31
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.

By: MAST 008 2021-06-25 11:49:22
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.

By: LOWER 009 2021-06-23 11:39:32
An amazingly written book!!

By: BLENH 016 2021-05-14 14:48:51
A really interesting story and real characters. We all felt invested in their lives and wanted positive outcomes for them. Really recommend this read.

By: CHCH 479 2021-05-03 14:05:28
Very well-written - a great novel. Excellent commentary on what is happening for refugees in Mexico/US.

By: WANG 011 2021-05-03 14:02:52
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.

By: TIMAR 011 2021-04-21 12:28:03
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.

By: ISLA 001 2021-02-22 14:31:06
Would encourage other book groups to have a read - an interesting novel. Maybe ended too abruptly.

By: CAMB 007 2020-12-18 14:09:22
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.

By: AUCK 348 2020-10-20 12:26:02
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.

The Book Discussion 
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