American Dirt

by Jeanine Cummins

With the approach of the Easter non-holiday upon us, take time out of your WFH schedule and swap it for some edge-of-your-seat fiction. I devoured this story of a woman and her young son fleeing a Mexican drug cartel late into the night with a pounding heart.  Although the author has come under criticism for telling a Latina story while not possessing the necessary credentials to do so, I found the book illuminating in many ways, and not just as a masterclass in suspense. It increases reader empathy for the migrant story, outlining the breath-taking scale of the stakes involved in fleeing the familiarity of homeland by escaping into the vast unknown. Lydia and her son must deploy their wits to outsmart sadistic opportunists they encounter on their perilous journey. The looming threat of the drug cartel  is not the only foe they must overcome in order to survive. The story made real to me why those in such desperate need to flee will imperil their own lives and the lives of their families to do so.  One day, Lydia’s relatively ordinary life is wrenched away as every member of her extended family, excluding her son, are brutally murdered and the next, she is running for her life. Suddenly this introspective bookshop owner finds there is no risk too huge to take for the sake of her son.

Reviewed for Zimmermann by Sophie Lee.