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American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
Contemporary fiction

American Dirt

Oprah's Book Club
We're proud to feature Oprah's Book Club pick.

by Jeanine Cummins

Quick take

This month, we're partnering with Oprah to offer her most recent Book Club pick to our members.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_HeavyRead

    Heavy read

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Sad

    Sad

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_GraphicViolence

    Graphic violence

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Serious

    Serious

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FYI

Recently, there has been controversy and discussion on social media and in the press regarding this book, the way it has been marketed, its characterizations of Mexican immigrants, its author’s identity, and issues of cultural appropriation. Because of this, we wanted to share with you our thoughts about why it is one of our selections this month.

Our thinking around this book – both as a work of literature and as a political call to action – has evolved as the conversation around it has unfolded. When we first read the book, we thought it was an eye-opening and emotional depiction of one of the most important issues of our time. But in recent weeks, the perspectives that have been voiced have led us to engage more deeply with its limitations – especially given our current political climate.

Some of our members have expressed disappointment that we selected this book and have told us that we missed the mark by featuring it. Over the past week, our team has debated whether or not we should pull American Dirt from our site. While thoughtful people have raised important and valid criticisms of this book, we think it is more productive to encourage conversations around these issues than to sweep them under the rug. Ultimately, we believe that it is more honest to let you decide for yourself whether or not you would like to read this book than make that decision for you.

Synopsis

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. One day, a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy―two of them are her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of a drug cartel that has taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee to beyond Javier's reach, Lydia and her eight-year-old son Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. As they join the countless people trying to reach the United States, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

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Preview

Get an early look from the first pages of American Dirt.

Member thoughts

All (8884)
All (8884)
Love (5672)
Like (2757)
Dislike (455)
9043 ratings
  • 63% Love
  • 30% Like
  • 5% Dislike
  • Waynesboro, PA

    Not an easy read by any means, but it’s important. It’s very tense from the first page & it doesn’t let up for the remainder of the book. Dark & heavy, and disturbing at times, but I’d still recommend

  • Menomonee Falls, WI

    I have read the controversies around this book, but I loved it. I fully realize that it is a fictionalized account of migration, but I respect the research and personal experiences of the author! ????????????

  • King, NC

    “Loved” isn’t quite the right word due to the heartwrenching subject matter. But it is a powerfully written story, humanizing immigrants and refugees. Aren’t books meant to illuminate new perspectives

  • Fort Hood , TX

    I couldn’t put it down. I was angry every night that I had to put it down to get some rest. I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I wasn’t reading. A book has never done that to me before. I loved it

  • New York, NY

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ WOW. I couldn’t put this book down; I plowed through it in 2 days. The content is heavy and I applaud the author for her bravery in tackling a behemoth. Thank you for this.

  • San Antonio , TX

    I know there was controversy about it but I would say take a chance, make your own decision about it, it was worth it IMO. I truly loved the author’s note, she cared about getting the facts right. ♥️

  • Westminster, CO

    I adored this novel. It was gripping from the very first page and was an emotional roller-coaster to the very end. The desperate struggle of a mother and son who lost everything felt vividly real. 5⭐️

  • Tarpon Springs, FL

    American Dirt was full of believable characters in a very critical subject matter. It opened up my mind to what it might be like in the shoes of people who are running for their lives to a place of safety

  • Peoria, AZ

    Lyrical and visual, American Dirt is an important book. Lydia’s harrowing journey to save her son is realistic and based on the author’s meticulous research. Unforgettable Thanks for the selection.

  • Attleboro, MA

    I loved everything about this book. I was captured by the first sentence to the last. Her writing is so well done and you feel like you are right there with the main character. Top 10 books Ive ever read

  • Boise, ID

    Amazing book that was beautifully written. Don’t let the controversy keep you from reading this. This book is eye opening, thought provoking, can’t stop thinking about it, good. Think for yourself!!!

  • Butler, NY

    I’m not sure why anyone was upset about this book being a BOTM? Maybe fear of realities people face? I’m glad I was given the chance to read this book and come to my own conclusion. It’s must read!

  • Knightdale, NC

    This book was eye-opening about the experiences Mexican citizens face in their country, from cartels’ brutality to the costs of escaping it. While controversial, this book can open others’ eyes too.

  • Richland Center , WI

    I don’t fully understand all the controversy surrounding this book. It is a well written beautiful description of what immigrants go through. It changed my perspective. I couldn’t put this book down!

  • Merrick, NY

    I’m very glad BOTM did not pull this book! American Dirt is a very moving story and one that needs to be told. It captivated me from the first page and I couldn’t it down. Thank you Jeanine Cummins!

  • Export , PA

    Yes. Sure. There’s controversy. But oh my gosh! This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I was captured from Page 1. What a harrowing story of a mother and son fighting for peace. WOW!

  • McKEE, KY

    Even with its heartwrenching subject matter, American Dirt is a thrilling and rewarding read. I would advise keeping the criticism of the book in mind so that you can keep a discerning point-of-view.

  • Hoffman Estates, IL

    This book broke my heart in so mant places. Perhaps the ain character isn’t totally realistic but she offers a relatable entry point to a sad stort most of us are grateful to not have lived. Must read

  • Chattanooga, TN

    I chose this because of the controversy surrounding the author. This heart-breaking story is a sadly beautiful tale of the triumph of hope and determination of the human spirit. Not sure it’s fiction.

  • Skokie, IL

    Know things like this have and do happen. You don’t know what you would do in this type of situation but to run. And do the best you can to protect the only family you have left. This was a great read

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