“American Dirt” by Jeanine Cummins

Author, Jeanine Cummins, shares a fascinating story of resilience and the will-to-survive, in American Dirt.

There was thirst and hunger, and you were the fruit.
There were grief and ruins, and you were the miracle.

–Pablo Neruda, “The Song of Despair”

Books: Cheaper than airline tickets …

… read the chalkboard sign Lydia has posted outside her bookstore in Acapulco. Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favourite books in her store.

And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favourites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

“The sign.” This customer gestured, and she stood back to assess her lettering. “Books are cheaper than traveling, but they’re also more dangerous.”

Lydia smiled. “Well, I suppose that depends on where you travel.”


And that sets the foreshadow for the travel in Lydia’s near future–one she does not yet know about. The travel of escape from the eruption of violence between rival cartels in Acapulco that suddenly invades the “quiet life” Lydia had built with her family.

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. 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.

“A free press was the last line of defense,” said Sebastián, Lydia’s journalist husband. And where he chose to focus on danger, Lydia recoiled from his integrity as being sanctimonious and selfish. She tried to be supportive but it made her angry, that he chose danger.

When that anger flared up and intruded, they moved around it like a piece of furniture too big for the room it occupied, pretended the danger was shifting to stability and peace. And then, the nightmare began …

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