Book Review: American Dirt
My rating: 5/5
American Dirt is the story of a woman, Lydia, and her son, Luca, who are on the run from a dangerous Mexican cartel after their entire family is killed in Acapulco.
Faced with fear and uncertainty, they are forced to make their way to the only place Lydia feels could be safe- the United States. Instantly turned into migrants, they must join the thousands of others on their way to el norte, hoping to find peace and security on the other side of the border. I found that this book read like a thriller, it was so fast-paced from the very first page that I couldn’t, and didn’t want to, put it down. Having this feeling with a book that is on such a serious topic is really a huge hats-off to the author.
For someone who (ignorant I know) didn’t have much background knowledge about the migrant crisis, Mexican cartels, and the horrific struggles that people have to go through on a daily basis, this book definitely opened up my eyes and began an important revelation into the amount of research I needed to do in order to educate myself on the situation. Obviously this topic in general is jam-packed with controversy, from both sides of the border, but add to it the fact that a white woman wrote this story and it fuels an already ignited fire into a blaze.
So here’s my two cents regarding all the controversy surrounding this book: should we only write what we know? Only the experiences we have personally been through and are experts in? No!! That would make the world of literature and writing a very boring place. However, can I understand where Latinx writers are frustrated because a white woman’s story of migrant’s struggles was chosen over I’m sure hundreds of similar ones written by Latinx authors themselves? Of course.
I hope that this book will serve as a mirror for the publishing industry to realize that representation truly does matter and that we must share the work of people from all types of backgrounds with vast experiences, not just a specific selection of people.
That being said, the story itself was just… amazing. I don’t think you will read many other books that place you in the setting and situation as much as this one does, and I can definitely see this being Book of the a year for a lot of readers. Regardless of whether you’ve heard of this book for good reasons or bad, you HAVE probably heard of it, and I think that alone is worth giving it a chance.