“This path is only for people who have no choice, no other option, only violence and misery behind you,” a priest warns the protagonist who is about to set out on a perilous journey. “Many will be maimed or injured. Many will die. Many, many of you will be kidnapped, tortured, trafficked or ransomed … every single one of you will be robbed.”
Jeanine Cummins’s third novel, American Dirt (January 21, 2020), is an action-packed wild ride. A middle-class wife of a Mexican journalist is suddenly forced to flee with her eight-year-old son and find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, the mother and son ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, the mother soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to? Trump’s America.
Cummins researched the background to American Dirt by spending time in the borderlands and listening to the personal stories of migrants and those who support them.
She said, “The more I listened, the more compelled I felt to write this novel. It was daunting at first, but it’s thrilling now to see the book provoke such a passionate response in the publishing world.”
I can’t wait for this book. From what I’ve heard, it’s almost like an action film in its presentation. It also has the added bonus of being powered by a political stance, which goes a long way on the NYTimes bestsellers lists.
But this is a true humanitarian story. So many books have outlined how difficult the Jewish, Irish and Italian peoples’ immigrant stories were in their flight from war, corruption, holocaust and famine and their arrival to America. Why would we avoid writing about the same story from the perspective of Latin Americans today? Latin Americans are the backbone in the service and construction industries now, as Jewish, Irish and Italians were in the past. They are the new working class that are starting at the bottom, and who will fight to get their children through college and becomes doctors, lawyers and politicians in the second and third generation.
I just pre-ordered this book. So should you!