'Where will we go, Mami?' 'I don't know, mijo' she says. 'We'll see. We'll have an adventure.'
The afternoon of her niece's fifteenth birthday party, all Lydia's worst nightmares come true. As she and her son Luca cower in a bathroom shower stall, the rest of her family is gunned down by members of Acapulco's most notorious drug cartel, to make an example of her journalist husband. Lydia's survival instincts kick in immediately, and before the bodies of her family have cooled on the patio, she and Luca are fleeing for their lives.
Such is the reach of the cartels, with roadblocks on every highway and the police in their pay, that Lydia quickly realises two things: that they must cross the US/Mexico border as quickly as possible, and that they cannot risk travelling by road. For Lydia and Luca, the most dangerous route is the only route - riding illegally atop the freight trains, known as la bestia
, hidden amongst the thousands of migrants who will risk everything in the desperate hope of a new start in the United States.
AMERICAN DIRT is the most heartstopping story of a mother and son on the run since Emma Donoghue's ROOM, a novel that brings an unforgettably human face to the story of the Mexico/US Border.
One hell of a novel about a good woman on the run with her beautiful boy... I defy anyone to read the first seven pages of this book and not finish it -- Stephen King
It's been a long time since I turned pages as fast as I did with American Dirt. Its journey is a testament to the power of fear and hope and belief that there are more good people than bad. -- John Grisham
Tough, powerful... AMERICAN DIRT made me understand better why someone would give up the home they know and love to survive, and the grit required to cross that border -- Tracy Chevalier
From its heart-stopping first sentence to its heart-shattering last, Cummins' story of immigrants is just what we need now -- Don Winslow
AMERICAN DIRT transported me through genuine fear and had me willing on every human being struggling to get to a better life. Written with masterly restraint, it is a roaring human triumph -- Laline Paul
From the opening page your heart will be in your mouth You will never want to put this story down, Jeanine Cummins has written a novel of such moment, such danger and such compassion, it will change your view of the world -- Kirsty Wark
At once intimate and epic, AMERICAN DIRT is an exhilarating and beautiful book about parental love and human hope -- Rumaan Alam
So viscerally real and so elegantly written. From the very first page, you know it's just essential reading -- Kate Leaver
Will punch you in the gut one minute and fill you with hope the next * Shelf Awareness *
Urgent and unforgettable, AMERICAN DIRT leaps the borders of the page and demands attention, especially now -- Sarah Blake
Riveting, timely, a dazzling accomplishment. Jeanine Cummins makes us all live and breathe the refugee story. If a book can change hearts and transform policies, this is the one -- Julia Alvarez
This book is not simply the great American novel; it's the great novel of las Americas. It's the great world novel! This is the international story of our times. Masterful -- Sandra Cisneros
Jeanine Cummins writes with such grace, compassion, and precision that I could not stop reading -- Erika Sanchez