American Dirt - book cover
  • Publisher : Holt Paperbacks; Reprint edition
  • Published : 01 Feb 2022
  • Pages : 400
  • ISBN-10 : 1250209781
  • ISBN-13 : 9781250209788
  • Language : English

American Dirt

Jeanine Cummins's American Dirt, the #1 New York Times bestseller and Oprah Book Club pick that has sold over two million copies, is finally available in paperback.

Lydia lives in Acapulco. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while cracks are beginning to show in Acapulco because of the cartels, Lydia's life is, by and large, fairly comfortable. But after her husband's tell-all profile of the newest drug lord is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and Luca find themselves joining 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?

Editorial Reviews

#1 New York Times Bestseller
#1 Indie Next Pick
Library Reads Pick

"I devoured the novel in a dry-eyed adrenaline rush.... A profoundly moving reading experience."
The Washington Post

"The story is masterfully composed of timeless elements: the nightmare logic of grief, the value of human kindness, the power of love to drive us to do the unimaginable…Cummins proves that fiction can be a vehicle for expanding our empathy."

"American Dirt just gutted me, and I didn't just read this book―I inhabited it.... Everything about this book was so extraordinary. It's suspenseful, the language is beautiful, and the story really opened my heart. I highly recommend it, and you will not want to put it down. It is just a magnificent novel."
―Oprah Winfrey

"This novel is a heart-stopping story of survival, danger, and love…"
The New York Times

"Heartfelt and hopeful, American Dirt is a novel for our times. Thrilling, epic, and unforgettable..."

"This tense, illuminating novel takes off like a rocket..."
People (Book of the Week)

"American Dirt is a literary novel with nuanced character development and arresting language; yet, its narrative hurtles forward with the intensity of a suspense tale. Its most profound achievement, though, is something I never could've been told…American Dirt is the novel that, for me, nails what it's like to live in this age of anxiety, where it feels like anything can happen, at any moment."
―NPR's Fresh Air


"American Dirt is an extraordinary piece of work, a perfect balancing act with terror on one side and love on the other. I defy anyone to read the first seven pages of this book and not finish it. The prose is immaculate, and the story never lets up.... On a micro scale―the story scale, where I like to live―it's one hell of a novel about a good woman on the run with her beautiful boy. It's marvelous."
―Stephen King

"American Dirt is both a moral compass and a riveting read. I couldn't put it down. I'll never stop thinking about it."
―Ann Patchett, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Dutch House and Commonwealth

"A heart-pounding, page-turning, can't-put-it-down, stay-up-till-3 a.m., adrenaline-pumping story…that examines, with sensitivity, care, and complexity of thought, immense, soul-obliterating trauma and its aftermath."
Los Angeles Times

"This is the international story of our times. Masterf...

Readers Top Reviews

This is a very moving story that I didn’t want to end. The narrative was full of feeling, and not once did I get bored. Thank you to this fine author for excellent research into the reality of the lives of the many migrants who brave the elements, the criminals, and the migras to find a safe haven that they can call home. I had no idea.
This is a page turner from beginning to end and it doesn’t get boring. Almost every challenge presented to the characters is new. The story begins in Acapulco, Mexico with Lydia and her son huddled in a shower stall fearing discovery. They’re hiding from the local cartel while the rest of her family are being shot in the backyard. They’re supposed to celebrating her niece’s quinceañera which is the girl’s fifteenth birthday but her sister, husband, mother and many of the rest of her relatives are murdered instead. After escaping detection, her first instinct is to hide in Acapulco and when that seems impossible, to run to the United States. A book that takes the perspective of the Mexican and Central American émigré seeking illegal entry into the U.S. is a story not often told. I last read the escape of a Mexican boy from recruitment by the cartel in “The Border” by Don Winslow however that wasn’t the main focus of the story. In "American Dirt," the émigré story is the focus and a pretty darn good read is the result.
J. v. KirchbachCarty
Knowing the controversies, here is my review which is not passionate one way or the other ... American Dirt is an engaging novel. The characters are well developed, interesting people. You care about them & are drawn into their dangerous escape to "El Norte." But there are major problems with the story. If you're looking for Cummins' to enlighten you about why so many Central Americans & Mexicans risk their lives to reach the US--FORGET IT. There is absolutely nothing typical about why the 4 central characters in this novel are hopping trains to La Fronterra. There is almost zero light shed on the economic, ecological, and political forces uprooting the lives of thousands of Mesoamericans and driving them to take this desperate journey. Most Mexicans seeking refuge in the US are not middle class bookstore owners. And they are not women who have befriended drug lords that their journalist husbands are exposing in the press. This improbable plot is simply baffling in key places. Was the drug lord really trying to hunt her down & kill her & her son or not? By the end of the book it's still hard to say. In fact, her whole traumatic journey may have been completely unnecessary. Sometimes things become as far-fetched as a horror ominous evil stalks the protagonist, but is it real or all in her head? Horror novels or thrillers don't claim to be chronicling an ongoing historical event, though, they are pure horror-fantasy. Even if the characters are interesting and the actual journey itself is fairly realistic, key plot twists and turning points are quite contrived and unrealistic. This novel should never have been OVER-hyped. It just can't live up to that kind of reputation.
Bullets flew all around them, ricocheting off the walls and the furniture. And, then it stopped, all was quiet, no noise at all. Lydia Quixano Perez and her son, Luca, are all alone, the gunmen gone. The police come, but once they know the story, they are unable to help. This is the beginning. Lydia owns a bookstore in Acapulco, and her husband, Sebastián, is an investigative journalist, writing about the narcotics cartel that has left their city and surrounding areas powerless. Lydia and Luca grab what they can, and walk to the bus station. They are without a home, anyone to protect them, little food and water and very little money. This is their story, one day you have everything, and the next, it is all gone, and you start looking for a new life. Hiding out from the cartel and others who prey. Lydia and Luca are the new migrants. We all know about the children in cages in the US,their parents in other detention centers or sent back to their countries of origin. We think of them as a group, a large group of people looking for a new life. Or we think of them as criminals trying to get what we have. The author, Jeanine Cummins, is giving us a look at one small family, Lydia and Luca, and their trek to find a better place, a life of safety, food and water, a job, education, the life of a migrant. This is often not a pretty story, it is realistic, and it left me wondering again, what kind of country we are. A book and story to ponder and to worry about. I felt great anxiety for these people in this most stressful time in our country. What are the answers? Recommended. prisrob 01-21-2020
linda galella
what it really means to “love others as you love yourself” “American Dirt” is a book that will change thinking. If you can read this story and not be moved, not be changed - I seriously wonder if you’re alive; it’s that effecting. The author has some skin in this game thru her grandmother’s immigration experiences. She’s done exhaustive research and produced a remarkable volume. The story is raw, violent, emotional and full of passion. The characters live and breathe from the very first moment they appear on the page. The reader will step inside the story and it will be near impossible to put the book down. The action is relentless and every moment of the 50+ days traveled by the family is felt by the reader - the hunger, thirst, fear, danger, sweat, blisters, cold, anticipation, sorrow... This is a once in a decade kind of book. Don’t miss it📚

Featured Video