Skip to main content
PBS logo

Search - American Dirt

American Dirt
American Dirt
Author: Jeanine Cummins
Lydia Quixano Perez 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 kno...  more »
ISBN-13: 9781250209788
ISBN-10: 1250209781
Publication Date: 2/1/2022
Pages: 400
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.

3.8 stars, based on 3 ratings
Publisher: Holt
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover
Members Wishing: 10
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

icantswim avatar reviewed American Dirt on + 71 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
What. Is. This??

This book is controversial. I wanted to read it, to see for myself, to form my own opinion. The controversy behind this book is valid. If "eyes were opened" after reading this, as some reviewers on booksellers' websites have said, then those readers have not been paying proper attention to the world. For this book is so poor that if it is the one to open eyes, then help us please.

This book also does not depict a realistic story. I do not think a story of a well-to-do person on the run is the story that needs to be told. Perhaps the author thought that the only way to gain understanding of migrants by a middle-class US readership was to create a character that closely mirrors her readership. But she was wrong. As a middle-class US reader, all she did was make me mad. I do not want this underdeveloped soap opera of a book to help me better understand cultures and circumstances different from my own.

I am not advocating for illegal immigration. No. I am advocating for a book that better explores the human condition and better educates me on the lived experiences of others.

I had higher expectations of this one, given all the publicity, but it failed. I am sorely disappointed that I bought this book.
reviewed American Dirt on + 620 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Please be aware before you order or buy this book that it has been fiercely criticized by many American Latino authors and critics for harmful stereotypes of Mexicans, for having taken some scenes from other authors and for having received a huge publishers' advance when Latino authors who have more authentic stories grounded in their own experiences and observations struggle to feed themselves. Yes, it may be an exciting story but completely from the American white person's point of view. Personally, I found it inferior to the Mexican-produced telenovelas I sometimes watch.
reviewed American Dirt on + 273 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Couldn't finish this one. Didn't care for storyline, definitely didn't care for writing style. Wanted to read it because of all the buzz about 'white American' writing about the plight of illegal immigrants. It certainly doesn't portray the immigrants we see coming over our borders on a daily basis. Most of them don't have thousands of pesos tucked in their bags, nor friends and contacts to help them along the way. And the whole convoluted emotional affair she has with cartel leader....please!

I just wasn't interested in seeing what happened. Too many other great books to read.

Best sentence: No quiet slashing of ink on paper can resuscitate her dead mother, her husband.
debbiemd avatar reviewed American Dirt on
Helpful Score: 2
This was an excellent book. Well written story of a woman and her son who have lost everything else to the drug cartel in Mexico making the crossing on La Bestia and with a coyote into the US to become illegal immigrants. It is loss and grief and love and hope. There was so much controversy about this book when it was published earlier this year by Latin Americans claiming that a Caucasian author could not write their experience but, albeit from the perspective of another Caucasian female, I thought this was a beautifully written book. Good story with great characters.
bvaughnfamily avatar reviewed American Dirt on + 47 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I just finished reading this.
I had a very hard time putting it down to go to sleep last night, but had to get some sleep because I had to work in the morning.
I was able to take it to work and finish in my down time.
It's one of those compelling stories that troubles you until it's resolved.
It definitely challenged my notions about family, trauma, good Samaritans, friendship, immigration - legal and otherwise, sacrifice, journalism, corruption...
Read All 13 Book Reviews of "American Dirt"

Please Log in to Rate these Book Reviews

reviewed American Dirt on
Loved this book!!!
pj-s-bookcorner avatar reviewed American Dirt on + 857 more book reviews
I wasn't sure about this when I started and I will say it is not an easy read, but it wasn't intended to be. Lydia is a bookstore owner, married to Sebastian - a newspaper reporter, mother of Luca - 8 YO. When she discovers that a customer she has become friends with is the subject of her husband's ongoing investigation into drug cartels, her world changes forever. With the murder of sixteen of her family at one time, life becomes a series of nightmares and tragedies. Their flight to freedom is eye opening, heartbreaking, and inspirational.
cindimoss avatar reviewed American Dirt on + 21 more book reviews
I know that there is a lot of bad talk about this book, and it honestly almost turned me off of reading it, which would have been a huge mistake. After listening to an interview with the author on the Barnes & Noble Podcast, I decided to try for it again, and it really is a beautiful story. Does this reflect what every Mexican experiences? Nope, not at all. Is this reflective of the migrant experience? Probably not at all. Could this story have happened to one single family in the history of Mexico? Yeah, probably. But you really need to remember - this isn't a documentary. This isn't a memoir. This is a FICTION book about a mom and her son trying to get to safety.

I encourage anyone to read the book for the story. Read Lydia & Luca's story. Of the life they had. The life they lost. How they survived. How they managed to go on with life and not just give up. Lydia wanted a better life for her son. If nothing else, THAT was a beautiful story. I found myself cheering them on, I cried with them, I became so overwhelmed with emotion, I had to stop reading for a while. But I went back because the story is amazing.

And the audio narration really brought it to life as well. The speech sounded authentic.

Book Wiki

Original Publication Date (YYYY-MM-DD)
Lydia (Primary Character)
Luca (Major Character)
Rebecca (Average Character)
Solidad (Average Character)