Read: American Dirt

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I’m really glad this book is getting the play it is getting. The book and the author deserve it because the book is well written and spins a tale of violence and desperation laced with moments of love and kindness that only exist in the worst of times and worst of places.

The author and I actually share something horrible in common. Several of her family members were killed in violent encounters here in the United States. My cousin was killed by gang members here in the United States. The American Dream, right.

I’ve also spent a fair amount of time along the border and have done stories on the border. I actually love the border and find the vast majority of people crossing to be some of the most solid people I’ve ever encountered, anywhere. And they are fleeing some of the most violent situations you can possibly imagine. This book does a wonderful job of illustrating just how bad the current situation really is. I’ve always felt it is our duty as fellow Americans, whether it be north or south or central for that matter, to help each other not point fingers and build fences. (Just my two cents.)

If you are new to the story of modern Latin America or the immigration story then American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins might be eye-opening and that is the primary purpose of these words. Horror followed by resiliency. Rinse, repeat. Once you pick it up you won’t put it down.

A mother and son on the run from cartel violence make their way north. A twist from early in the story intensifies things and you are never quite sure of the outcome until the last few pages. You find yourself glimpsing ahead at the bottom of the next page than telling yourself “Don’t do it, just be patient.”

Get it, read it.

Comments 4

  1. Hello Dan,

    at first I thought this was the book titled American Rust, which was also billed as the ‘next Grapes of Wrath’. The Rust one was awful in my opinion but your recommendation of Mrs. Cummins makes me want to get it. I’ll put it on my wishlist. As for the ‘next Grapes of Wrath’ billing: I’m all against this kind of common denominators. I’m sure Mrs. Cummins very much prefers to be the author of the first ‘American Dirt’ then the next ‘Grapes of Wrath’. Same things happen with lazy reviewers of music, cinema etc, who constantly find ‘next Led Zeppelins’, ‘next Fellinis’ and so one.


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      I didn’t once during this book think this was Grapes of Wrath. It was point A to point B drama which made me think of a numerous other books but not GOW. So ya, I never pay much attention to reviews. Winslow, however, is a border/drug war writer of the highest level.

  2. Not knowing much about the migration of peoples from the south to el Norte, this book really is exceptional on humanizing the trials and tribulations of traveling thousands of miles to cross an arbitrary border which separates those who have from those who have not. This isn’t Grapes of Wrath but a worthy universal story of migration and the hope of securing a brighter future.

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      About to start something on this myself. Migration has been happening since the beginning. Love how so many anti-immigrant folks dont’ seem to know…..we all are. And that we destroyed another people in the process. The revisionist history I hear is getting crazier by the day.

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