I Read American Dirt So That You Dont Have To |Book Review

Oprah’s Book Club

Oprah choose this book as part of her book club since the book was released. It wasn’t until weeks after the release that she was getting backlash with Cummins’ about the book. She says, “From the first sentence, I was IN … Like so many of us, I’ve read newspaper articles and watched television news stories and seen movies about the plight of families looking for a better life, but this story changed the way I see what it means to be a migrant in a whole new way.” And she was right, this book is captivating. Cummins is good writer and was able to captive a reader to read her book.

Jeanine’s Controversy

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The Publisher’s Statement


NPR’s Review:

Cummins’ novel brings to life the ordeal of individual migrants, who risk everything to try to cross into the U.S. But, in its largest ambitions, the novel also captures what it’s like to have the familiar order of things fall away and the rapidity with which we humans, for better or worse, acclimatize ourselves to the abnormal. Propulsive and affecting, American Dirt compels readers to recognize that we’re all but a step or two away from “join[ing] the procession.


Pendeja, You Ain’t Steinbeck: My Bronca with Fake-Ass Social Justice Literature

Perhaps Cummins fascination with borders explains Dirt’s similarity to other works about México and migration: her novel is so similar to the works she used for research that some might say it borders on the P word. In Dirt’s acknowledgements, Cummins announces her ignorance by thanking people for “patiently teaching me things about Mexico.” She lists writers “you should read if you want to learn more about Mexico” and lists a slew of authors – Luis Alberto Urrea, Oscar Martinez, Sonia Nazario, Jennifer Clement, Aida Silva Hernandez, Rafael Alarcon, Valeria Luiselli, and Reyna Grande – contradicting her characterization of us as an illiterate horde. We not only have faces and names. Some of us have extensive bibliographies.


Twitter Criticism:


3 thoughts on “I Read American Dirt So That You Dont Have To |Book Review

  1. Thanks for sharing your book review. I am a bit curious on reading this book if not just to see how far off she is from a true migrant story. I my self did not have to enter this country illegally but I do have family and friends that have not been so lucky. Most of them were leaving Mexico due to economics and chasing after the American Dream!


  2. I am commenting as a nonwhite and nonimmigrant. When I first heard about American Dirt, the story appealed to me. Then the controversy started and I wasn’t sure. But I decided to read it in order to form my own opinion. I thought it was very good and rang true. I’m sure there are many immigrant experiences. I don’t have a problem that a non Mexican, non immigrant wrote the story.
    Stereotypes? I’m sure there are people like the ones in the book. Not all the characters were bad people. The author depicted good people both among the migrating group and those they met along the way. Maybe Cummins’ point was despite Lydia’s finances, her journey was not necessarily any easier. Reading this book might help some people have a better understanding of this type of immigrant experience and have empathy for those who can not enter El Norte through “legal” ports of entry.


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