One of the most compelling and thought provoking novels I have read in a long time. This is a novel that I urge you to read and I’ll certainly be telling everyone to head out to your local bookshop to buy it. For me the sign of a great book is that within the first page or chapter you are gripped, and American Dirt achieved this brilliantly.
The story whilst clearly a novel has been based on research by Cummins on the situation in Mexico and the lives of those trying to cross the border to the US. Reading the book with this knowledge and against the backdrop of the current US Government policy creates a hugely powerful and important book that must be read.
Lydia, her husband, Sebastian and their son Luca live in Acapulco, a resort town in Southern Mexico, that has become one of the most violent places on earth. They live a comfortable life, Lydia owns a bookshop, Sebastian is a journalist and their son enjoys school. The city is in the middle of gang warfare and while they are cautious and careful believe that they are safe. Lydia is a proud bookshop owner; she curates her stock which compliments her individual taste and knows she is stocking books that maybe only she wants to read. Then one day a customer comes in for a browse and buys two of her favourite books. He is charming, entertaining and engaging returning again and again for conversations and purchases. At the same time Sebastian who is an investigative journalist publishes an article on the city’s major cartel warlord their lives change forever.
The story opens dramatically with Lydia and Luca hiding in their bath following the massacre of her family during a family celebration. We then go on the run with Lydia and Luca as look to find safety with her uncle in Denver. Cummins writing style brings you on the journey with Lydia and Luca so much so that you are there with them on the train or walking across the dessert or hiding in rooms.
At no point does the tension ease, it slows slightly giving you a chance to catch your breath but never stops. The journey is unbearable at times and the descriptions shine a light onto the daily dangers that the millions of immigrants around the world endure.