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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

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    Heavy read

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    Sad

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_GraphicViolence

    Graphic violence

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    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

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