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  • Writer's pictureJoan Fernandez

American Dirt

By Jeanine Cummins

Two spotlights: Plight of Southern neighbors and Gap in Publishing Industry

The pacing and riveting tension in American Dirt, a story about a mother escaping a Mexican cartel with her eight-year-old son, pulls the reader onto the top of the high-speed train, through streets looking over our shoulders for cartel members, and absolutely into the universal heart of a mother desperate to keep her son safe. Author Cummins employs multiple points of view fluidly to bring us into the experiences of the mother, son and their fellow migrant escapees. As a reader you can’t help but broaden your empathy for the story into becoming invested in our national migrant story and the politics that are impacting so many trying to escape real danger.

Cummins’ book has become a flashpoint for Latinx writers who have been sidelined by the publishing industry for years. When this book was promoted as a groundbreaking, heartbreaking, never-before-told story about migrants, the authors that have written compelling stories were right to hold the publishing industry accountable. By hurdling to this soar spot, the merits of Cummins’ book have gone unnoticed. It’s a good story. And if it can meet the dual purpose of bringing light to the real plight of our Southern neighbors as well as the need to diversify the white gaze of publishers—this book is welcome on my bookshelf.

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