Migrant is the last word Lydia ever thought she would use to describe herself. She owned a bookshop in Acapulco, Mexico, while her husband was a respected journalist. Together they were raising their 8-year-old son in a middle class home.

An article about a cartel boss was met with a barrage of bullets that ended that tranquility and forever changed their lives.

“American Dirt” is a novel by Jeanine Cummins (Flatiron Books, 2019) that tells the story of several people migrating from Central America and Mexico to the United States. While it’s a work of fiction, there are enough truths to be disturbing.

I was invited to make a guest appearance at my old book club in Tahoe last month. They are doing them by Zoom instead of in-person for the time being. Each participant rates the book for enjoyability, if they would recommend it, and literary merit. Of the 12 there that night each category averaged 7.8. My scores were 8 for enjoyability, 8 to recommend and 7 for literary merit.

Comments from the group were:

  • It’s a page-turner.
  • I learned a lot.
  • I was so afraid the whole time even though you know it is fiction.
  • I thought it was very informational.
  • I didn’t enjoy it; it was miserable, sad and devastating. I’ll read the news for this kind of information, not a novel.
  • I think it’s an important novel to know what is going on.
  • I didn’t realize it was fiction until I finished it.
  • I would rather read about someone who actually experienced it.
  • I’ve already passed it on to four other friends because I can’t return it to the library.
  • This book was very difficult for me to pick up every night because of all the angst in the world.
  • You should feel uncomfortable after reading it.

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