Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “American Dirt” as Want to Read:
American Dirt
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

American Dirt

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  17,341 ratings  ·  3,407 reviews
También de este lado hay sueños. On this side, too, there are dreams.

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.

Hardcover, 400 pages
Published January 21st 2020 by Flatiron Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.24  · 
Rating details
 ·  17,341 ratings  ·  3,407 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of American Dirt
Dec 13, 2019 rated it did not like it
[edit]For a deeper, nuanced conversation from a panel of Mexican American poets, professors, bloggers, librarians, poets laureate ... watch this video:

Also, as part of the #DignidadLiteraria team, I met with Flatiron / Macmillan. Here's the press conference announcing the commitment to Latinx equity the publisher made: [/edit]

Jeanine Cummins' American Dirt is a novel about a Mexican bookseller who has to escape cartel-related violence
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
Jan 16, 2020 rated it did not like it
I wish I could give this book negative stars because it is, as its title attests, dirt.

It is also profoundly racist.

Here is my essay about the dissent surrounding this book, dissent that is being erased, disappeared and silenced:
Nilufer Ozmekik
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a mind blowing beginning of a book! A mother, Lydia and her little boy, Luca hid themselves in the bathtub for not being other victims of family massacre. The contract killers/ most dangerous drug-lord’s dirtbags kept looking for them, firing their guns, calling their names. And finally they thought they were not at the house so they left the place and 16 innocent victims behind.

Now mother and her son have to leave the country for staying alive because one of the powerful men is chasing
Nicky Nicholson-Klingerman
Dec 13, 2019 rated it did not like it
horribly racist book abt mexico written by a white lady. sooooooooooooooooo tired of yts pretending like they understand. stop telling our stories through your horribly racist oppressive lenses. please read a real review:
mindful.librarian ☀️
DNF the audiobook (free review copy from at 15% for various reasons including overly dramatic writing that doesn’t fit my reading preferences, major representation issues and perpetuation of racist stereotypes.

ETA: I encourage readers to find books about this issue that more accurately depict Mexico and the immigrant experience. One excellent option would be this one:

The Devil's Highway: A True Story


ETA 3:
Anne Bogel
UPDATE: I read this book in early fall 2019, before important critiques and interviews were published. Some commenters have helpfully linked those in comments so you can see some of what I'm referencing. I've cleared my star rating. I'm listening, I'm learning, I'm asking questions. I considered deleting my original review; for now I'm leaving it below.

I thought this was absolutely fantastic and I can't wait for everyone I know to read it so we can talk about it together. If you follow me, you
Elyse  Walters
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
That beginning is gripping!!!

The most anticipated novel for 2020 - has the word controversy around it.
I wasn’t even aware of the controversial issues until yesterday.

As pure FICTION - it’s sooooo engaging!!
“In a different life, he could have been someone good”.
“This isn’t a different life”.

Much to engage your thinking...
How in the world does one debate the degrees of violence?

It changes something inside us!
Plus... It’s not easy to
Angela M
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I wanted to read this novel because of the praise and high ratings by a number of my trusted Goodreads friends. Then just before I started to read it, I became aware of the criticisms in both the literary and press at large and I made the decision not to read any more of those articles until I finished the book. You’ll have to read the criticisms for yourself and decide whether you think the book is worth reading.

In spite of everything said about the novel, I found it to be riveting,
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ok seems like a bunch of privileged 'let me show you how woke I am' white people have decided they can speak for the Latin community. Surprise asshats, I am of Mexican and Native American blood.

This is a work of FICTION. Google it if you don't understand. The author owes you nada. Move on. Get over yourself. Fuck off.

To say that a non Latina has no right to write about Latin issues is absurd. Tell that to all of the writers of WWII fiction. Again with that word fiction.

Any book that shines
I doubt there is a single person here on Goodreads that has not heard at least a hint of the controversy surrounding this book. I’m also confident that nearly every reader has at least a basic idea of the synopsis of American Dirt. So, I’m not really touching either of those elements in my review. I am a white woman, living in upstate New York, thousands of miles from Mexico. I have no real personal experience regarding the Mexican migrant issue, and therefore cannot speak to whether or not ...more
Diane S ☔
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 Due to the controversy surrounding this book, Angela, Esil and I decided to make this our monthly read. Nice to bounce thoughts off of my trusted reading buddies. I was concerned I wouldn't be able to give this a fair and unbiased reading, so I tried not to look into this further, not read any other reviews, until finishing.

I found it to be surprisingly well done and on an important subject. I truly liked these characters and felt for what they had gone through and the effort it took for
Dec 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
i didnt readthis book. save your breath, do not comment telling me to not rate what i havent read.

i did read this review by myriam gurba. do yourself a favor and read her work and this scathing and hilarious review instead. then go read something writte by someone with actual experience of the border. not someone benefiting from privilege and so tone deaf as to use the border wall as fucking centerpieces.
Jan 22, 2020 marked it as lost-interest
As a person who constantly complains about writers borrowing and cashing in on Russian culture without having any expertise to do so (you, Leigh Bardugo, you, Julia Phillips), I find the takedown of this novel fascinating and infinitely satisfying (obviously, the stakes are not the same). Ever since The Help (and definitely way before that) well meaning white ladies have been lining their pockets by appropriating and "educating." Maybe it will finally stop now? You want to write about a ...more
4.5 stars
Is this the definitive immigrant experience? I’m not naïve enough to think so. This is fiction.
Were there clichés or negative stereotypes? Not that I could see. Instead, this book destroyed the stereotypes. As the author notes in her epilogue the people are not “faceless brown masses”, an often quoted phrase by the naysayers taken totally out of context – it’s an image the author says she tried (quite successfully) to dispel. The people crossing into our borders are individuals with
Dec 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
Author appears to be a white woman profiting off the suffering of Brown people, telling a story that isn't hers/her people's to share.
Rebecca Kaye
Dec 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
Hard pass on this. There are so many other more authentic books written on this subject. Expanding one's circle of authors is not difficult.
Jan 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
Exploitative trauma-porn coming from a non-Mexican white woman. Full of harmful stereo-types and stylized violence. But of course why be critical of what you’re reading, right?

Do not recommend.
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a timely and powerful portrayal of the plight of the migrant. An innocent mother and her young son desperately and illegally attempt to enter the US from Mexico while fleeing from a cartel. The beginning is brutal and the tension never ceases. The cartel’s savagery is not the focus of the novel but it is the impetus. At its heart, this is a novel about victims and there are victims aplenty. No one is to be trusted. Although, amid much cold-blooded barbarity and those out to make quick ...more

4.5 Stars

Beginning at the end, or perhaps more accurately – after the end of the story, for a change. In the Author’s Note at the end of the story, Cummins writes:

”As I traveled and researched, even the notion of the American dream began to feel proprietary. There’s a wonderful piece of graffiti on the border wall in Tijuana that became, for me, the engine of this whole endeavor. I photographed it and made it my computer wallpaper. Anytime I faltered or felt discouraged, I
Sep 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
***Goodreads Giveaway Win***

I need to update my review after getting educated by Myriam Gurba

After reading this article ( ) . I learned to look at the book through a non-gringa point of view. Everything she said made me re-think my take on this book. Please read Myriam Gurba's review.

Here's Original Review:
This is going down as one of the best books I have ever read. I loved every single word, sentence, paragraph and chapter. Jeanine Cummins told the
Feb 03, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: american, group-read, 2020
Good god.

I know there's an angry wasp nest of controversy surrounding this book (about cultural appropriation, about misappropriation, about racism in the publishing industry, about Oprah and her sticker-of-doom, about a book launch decorated with barbed wire, about a white person writing a story for other white people so they can feel better about themselves and more enlightened in regards to the Mexican migrant's plight, and so on, and so forth).

But I'm not going to go there. I'm a Canuck in
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
A fast paced and heart stopping read, once I started I just galloped to the end as this was unputdownable

I have to say I felt like I was on the run with Lydia and Luca as my heart was pounding from the first page of this novel and I was sucked into the story. I loved the characters of Lydia and Luca and was rooting for them as the story progressed. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader interested and I found myself staying up into the early hours of the morning to finish this
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Forced to flee from Acapulco after the massacre of their entire family, Lydia and her eight year old son Luca become migrants and begin their journey to the United States.
What a journey!
This is an extraordinary novel!
This is a page turner that explores all the elements.. grief, love, kindness, survival...
The movie rights have already been acquired...
I don’t care about any controversy about the book or’s a NOVEL. a great one!
Also consider:
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera
Unaccompanied by Javier Zamora
Citizen Illegal by José Olivarez
The Devil's Highway: A True Story by Luis Alberto Urrea
The Gringo Champion by Aura Xilonen
Retablos: Stories from a Life Lived Along the Border by Octavio Solis
Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran
Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli
Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine
The Distance Between Us
Ron Charles
The publishing world is deep in an epic mud fight over Jeanine Cummins’s new novel, “American Dirt.” It tells the story of a Mexican bookstore owner and her 8-year-old son trying to escape a poem-writing drug lord who murdered their family and wants to finish the job. The novel is just a melodramatic thriller tarted up with flowery ornaments and freighted with earnest political relevance, but it's sparked an internecine battle among the literati. Along the way, sausage-making details about how ...more
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
What is there left to say about American Dirt? This novel was barely published a week ago and it has already generated such polarized reactions. I’m going to try to wave a white flag and give my own reaction to the novel divorced from the controversy...

This is a harrowing story. It starts with the murder of Lydia’s whole family, except her son Luca, in Acapulco, and continues on as their perilous journey through Mexico to the United States. On their journey, they meet many people. It’s never
Julie Christine
Feb 05, 2020 marked it as dnf
I wrote this in response to another reader's statement that the criticism of American Dirt amounts to censorship. I find this notion so appalling that I responded with the following, but realized I didn't need to bomb her feed with my opinion. I could bomb my own :-)

Oh, as an author, it makes me so sad to see anyone conflate accountability with censorship. This author received a seven-figure advance, a massive marketing campaign, (bolstered ironically by the controversy); this book will be, is,
R.C. Rejino
Jan 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
White people really be stealing POC narratives with NONE of the nuance.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
Jeanine Cummins is the author of four books: the bestselling memoir A Rip in Heaven, and the novels The Outside Boy, The Crooked Branch, and American Dirt. She lives in New York with her husband and two children.

Readers also enjoyed

  • A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America
  • The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock
  • The Last Sister (Columbia River, #1)
  • The Names of the Dead
  • Lost Hills (Eve Ronin #1)
  • Red Russia
  • In the Heart of the Fire (Nameless #1)
  • Unspeakable Things
  • Such a Fun Age
  • Dear Edward
  • Long Bright River
  • Thin Air (Jessica Shaw #1)
  • Where the Forest Meets the Stars
  • A Madness of Sunshine
  • The Revisioners
  • How We Fight For Our Lives
  • There Was Still Love
  • Thin Ice (Alaska Wild Mysteries #1)
See similar books…
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“That these people would leave their homes, their cultures, their families, even their languages, and venture into tremendous peril, risking their very lives, all for the chance to get to the dream of some faraway country that doesn’t even want them.” 7 likes
“Lydia is dubious at first, but if you can’t trust a librarian, who can you trust?” 3 likes
More quotes…