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Editors’ Choice from The New York Times Book Review
#1 Indie Next Pick for February
January 2020 Library Reads Pick
A Most-Anticipated Book of the Season/Year: The New York Times • O, The Oprah Magazine • Vogue • Marie Claire • Real Simple • Elle • Entertainment Weekly • Woman’s Day • Literary Hub • Parade • Chicago Tribune • The Washington Post • Time • Fast Company • Forbes • Esquire • USA Today • PopSugar • Bustle • The New York Times Book Review
“American Dirt just gutted me, and I didn’t just read this book―I inhabited it….Everything about this book was so extraordinary. It’s suspenseful, the language is beautiful, and the story really opened my heart. I highly recommend it, and you will not want to put it down. It is just a magnificent novel.”―Oprah
“American Dirt is a literary novel with nuanced character development and arresting language; yet, its narrative hurtles forward with the intensity of a suspense tale. Its most profound achievement, though, is something I never could’ve been told…American Dirt is the novel that, for me, nails what it’s like to live in this age of anxiety, where it feels like anything can happen, at any moment.”
―Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air
“This tense, illuminating novel takes off like a rocket…”
―People (Book of the Week)
“This novel is a heart-stopping story of survival, danger, and love…”
―The New York Times
“I devoured the novel in a dry-eyed adrenaline rush….A profoundly moving reading experience.”
―The Washington Post
“A heart-pounding, page-turning, can’t-put-it-down, stay-up-till-3 a.m., adrenaline-pumping story…that examines, with sensitivity, care, and complexity of thought, immense, soul-obliterating trauma and its aftermath.”
―Los Angeles Times
“The story is masterfully composed of timeless elements: the nightmare logic of grief, the value of human kindness, the power of love to drive us to do the unimaginable…Cummins proves that fiction can be a vehicle for expanding our empathy.”
“Destined to be a classic.”
“Heartfelt and hopeful, American Dirt is a novel for our times. Thrilling, epic, and unforgettable….”
“Stunning…remarkable….A novel as of the zeitgeist as any, American Dirt is also an account of love on the run that will never lose steam.”
“This one will tug at your heartstrings.”
“The very best novel I’ve read about immigrants (and the best novel I’ve read over the past year)….American Dirt is being compared to The Grapes of Wrath, and the comparison is apt.”
―San Francisco Chronicle
“As literature, American Dirt is modern realism at its finest: a tale of moral challenge in the spirit of Theodore Dreiser wrapped inside a big-hearted social epic like The Grapes of Wrath. American Dirt is going to be the defining book of 2020.”
―New York Journal of Books
“I strive to write page-turners because I love to read them, and it’s been a long time since I turned pages as fast as I did with American Dirt. Its plot is tight, smart, and unpredictable. Its message is important and timely, but not political. Its characters are violent, compassionate, sadistic, fragile, and heroic. It is rich in authenticity. Its journey is a testament to the power of fear and hope and belief that there are more good people than bad.”
“American Dirt is both a moral compass and a riveting read. I couldn’t put it down. I’ll never stop thinking about it.”
―Ann Patchett, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Dutch House and Commonwealth
“Why do we read fiction? By immersing ourselves in the lives of fictional characters we gain emotional depth, breadth, and empathy. We become more human. I have never felt more changed―or challenged―by a book than I have by American Dirt. It’s truly a revelation.”
―Elin Hilderbrand, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Summer of ’69
“Relevant, powerful, extraordinary. It is a remarkable combination of joy and terror, infused always with the restorative power of a mother's love and the endless human capacity for hope. I hope everyone reads it and is as moved by it as I was.”
―Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone
“Riveting, timely, a dazzling accomplishment. Jeanine Cummins makes us all LIVE and BREATHE the refugee story.”
―Julia Alvarez, author of In the Time of the Butterflies
“American Dirt is an extraordinary piece of work, a perfect balancing act with terror on one side and love on the other. I defy anyone to read the first seven pages of this book and not finish it. The prose is immaculate, and the story never lets up. This book will be an important voice in the discussion about immigration and los migrantes; it certainly puts the lie to the idea that we are being besieged by ‘bad hombres.’ On a micro scale―the story scale, where I like to live―it’s one hell of a novel about a good woman on the run with her beautiful boy. It’s marvelous.”
“From its heart-stopping first sentence to its heart-shattering last, Cummins’s story of immigrants is just what we need now. Gritty yet sensitive, realistic yet hopeful, grand and granular, American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins is a Grapes of Wrathfor our times.”
―Don Winslow, author of the New York Times bestseller The Border
“The most gripping thriller you’ll read this side of Marathon Man. This thing goes harder than a Lee Child novel and the writing sings. Deserves to be a Gone Girl-level hit.”
―Joe Hill, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fireman and Heart-Shaped Box
“Jeanine Cummins writes with such grace, compassion, and precision that I could not stop reading.”
―Erika Sánchez, author of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
“This is a book that’s both hard to read and hard to put down and will no doubt spark a lot of conversation.”
“Time to sink into American Dirt.”
“This book is not simply the great American novel; it’s the great novel of las Americas. It’s the great world novel! This is the international story of our times. Masterful.”
―Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street
“American Dirt is an urgent, blistering, unforgettable book. In her portrayal of Lydia and Luca, a mother and son forced to leave their Mexican home, Jeanine Cummins has given face to migrants everywhere who flee violence and near-certain death in search of only one thing: a chance at life. Beautifully written, thrilling in its propulsive force, American Dirt is a new American classic.”
―Tara Conklin, author of the New York Times bestseller The Last Romantics
“The story of the migrant is the story of our times, and Jeanine Cummins is a worthy chronicler. At once intimate and epic, American Dirt is an exhilarating and beautiful book about parental love and human hope.”
―Rumaan Alam, author of That Kind of Mother and Rich and Pretty
“Urgent and unforgettable, American Dirt leaps the borders of the page and demands attention, especially now.”
―Sarah Blake, author of the New York Times bestsellers The Postmistress and The Guest Book
“A powerful, moving, and unforgettable read.”
―Reyna Grande, author of The Distance Between Us
“This tough, powerful novel is an eye opener. It made me understand better why someone would give up the home they know and love to survive, and the grit required to cross that border. It is essential reading for our time.”
―Tracy Chevalier, bestselling author of Girl With a Pearl Earring
“This extraordinary novel about unbreakable determination will move the reader to the core.”
―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Lydia and Luca are utterly believable characters, and their breathtaking journey moves with the velocity and power of one of those freight trains. Intensely suspenseful and deeply humane, this novel makes migrants seeking to cross the southern U.S. border indelibly individual.”
―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“American Dirt may be the don’t-miss book of 2020.”
―Booklist (starred review)
“Cummins is a skilled and empathetic chronicler of trauma and its aftermath…American Dirt is an immersive story, fueled by the elemental love of a mother for her son.”
―Minnesota Star Tribune
“This gripping story of a mother and son on Mexico’s migrant trail combines humane intentions with propulsive, action-movie execution.”
“This is a book everyone should read.”
―Woman & Home
“This powerful new novel promises readers a ride they’ll never forget.”
About the Author
- ASIN : B07QQLCZY1
- Publisher : Flatiron Books (January 21, 2020)
- Publication date : January 21, 2020
- Language : English
- File size : 4878 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 387 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #319 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
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**p.s.** When I went to review this book I was given an error message that said there were too many suspect reviews and therefore only confirmed purchasers could review the book...and I bought the book from Amazon! I found a back door to getting in and putting a review up, but it took me about 20 mins, maybe thirty to jump through all the hoops to get it done. Had I been less invested I would have given up. Take whatever meaning you want from this info.
One might question whether creating unbelievable situations and rather saintly characters is the best way to do this, but the book seems more or less effective in its stated purpose. For example, the head of the local drug cartel is, in American Dirt, a poet and literary connoisseur who befriends the protagonist before her husband publishes an expose on him and he orders their execution. The mother does not even have a tinge of darkness in her, despite having seen the brutal butchering of her entire family.
Plot conceits like these are okay in a book that’s mainly meant to be a page-turner but the book is so overhyped that I was expecting to read a classic. The cover boasts this is a Grapes of Wrath for our generation, for goodness sakes.
As long as your expectations are for a good page-turner with noble intentions you will not be disappointed. But melodramatic plot twists, one-dimensional characters and a lack of any depth or symbolism beyond the bare accounting of an immigrant’s journey do not make a novel a masterpiece no matter how importantly its message may be needed today. A good book but by no means a literary classic.
“American Dirt” is a book that will change thinking. If you can read this story and not be moved, not be changed - I seriously wonder if you’re alive; it’s that effecting. The author has some skin in this game thru her grandmother’s immigration experiences. She’s done exhaustive research and produced a remarkable volume.
The story is raw, violent, emotional and full of passion. The characters live and breathe from the very first moment they appear on the page. The reader will step inside the story and it will be near impossible to put the book down. The action is relentless and every moment of the 50+ days traveled by the family is felt by the reader - the hunger, thirst, fear, danger, sweat, blisters, cold, anticipation, sorrow...
This is a once in a decade kind of book. Don’t miss it📚
Lydia owns a bookstore in Acapulco, and her husband, Sebastián, is an investigative journalist, writing about the narcotics cartel that has left their city and surrounding areas powerless. Lydia and Luca grab what they can, and walk to the bus station. They are without a home, anyone to protect them, little food and water and very little money. This is their story, one day you have everything, and the next, it is all gone, and you start looking for a new life. Hiding out from the cartel and others who prey. Lydia and Luca are the new migrants.
We all know about the children in cages in the US,their parents in other detention centers or sent back to their countries of origin. We think of them as a group, a large group of people looking for a new life. Or we think of them as criminals trying to get what we have. The author, Jeanine Cummins, is giving us a look at one small family, Lydia and Luca, and their trek to find a better place, a life of safety, food and water, a job, education, the life of a migrant.
This is often not a pretty story, it is realistic, and it left me wondering again, what kind of country we are. A book and story to ponder and to worry about. I felt great anxiety for these people in this most stressful time in our country. What are the answers?
Recommended. prisrob 01-21-2020
Top reviews from other countries
American Dirt is an engaging novel. The characters are well developed, interesting people. You care about them & are drawn into their dangerous escape to "El Norte." But there are major problems with the story.
If you're looking for Cummins' to enlighten you about why so many Central Americans & Mexicans risk their lives to reach the US--FORGET IT. There is absolutely nothing typical about why the 4 central characters in this novel are hopping trains to La Fronterra. There is almost zero light shed on the economic, ecological, and political forces uprooting the lives of thousands of Mesoamericans and driving them to take this desperate journey.
Most Mexicans seeking refuge in the US are not middle class bookstore owners. And they are not women who have befriended drug lords that their journalist husbands are exposing in the press. This improbable plot is simply baffling in key places. Was the drug lord really trying to hunt her down & kill her & her son or not? By the end of the book it's still hard to say. In fact, her whole traumatic journey may have been completely unnecessary. Sometimes things become as far-fetched as a horror novel...an ominous evil stalks the protagonist, but is it real or all in her head? Horror novels or thrillers don't claim to be chronicling an ongoing historical event, though, they are pure horror-fantasy.
Even if the characters are interesting and the actual journey itself is fairly realistic, key plot twists and turning points are quite contrived and unrealistic. This novel should never have been OVER-hyped. It just can't live up to that kind of reputation.