Today’s Maximum Shelf pick is Jeanine Cummins’ AMERICAN DIRT–a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.
Lydia Quixano Perez 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.
Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with four books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. 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.
Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward America, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the thousands of people trying to reach American dirt, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?
“AMERICAN DIRT will punch you in the gut one minute and fill you with hope the next. The stirring descriptions, complex characters and heart-pounding race to stay alive combine for a gripping plot, while the themes of injustice and human determination take it to a much higher level than an average thriller novel. This is an important story being told at a vital point in time. On one hand it’s a single woman’s plight, but on the other, it’s the human condition. Powerful!”–Shelf Awareness