#FromTheBookshelf Review – American Dirt

OK. It’s time for me to throw my hat in the ring on the book that LOTS of people have been talking about – American Dirt.

  • Format Read – Hard Copy
  • How did I get this book – Gifted by a friend 🙂
  • Date Read – February 21st – 27th
  • Genre – Suspense / Thriller / Contemporary Fiction
  • Publisher – Tinder Press

The “Blurb”

Yesterday, Lydia had a bookshop.
Yesterday, Lydia was married to a journalist.
Yesterday, she was with everyone she loved most in the world.

Today, her eight-year-old son Luca is all she has left.

For him, she will carry a machete strapped to her leg.
For him, she will leap onto the roof of a high speed train.
For him, she will find the strength to keep running.

My thoughts

So, time to address the elephant in the room. This book sure has had its fair share of controversy. When I first heard about the book, I was very interested for a number of reasons. The subject matter of course tops the list, but as someone married to a Mexican, and who lived in Mexico (In a city that “La bestia” passes through no less) for three years I like to see stories set there get some recognition. Then when news started to break surrounding the book I was put off. I had been looking forward to it but then I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it given what other reviewers / bloggers were saying.

However, then I thought about all the arguments I have had with people in the past. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but let’s just say that if I had refused to read this book because of the controversy I would be a hypocrite. So, when a friend offered me the book, I snatched at the chance to read it. I wanted to give it a fair shot, so I didn’t read anything more about it and dove straight in.

You may already know what the story is about but essentially it is the story of Lydia and Luca. They lived in Acapulco in Mexico but are now on the run after each and every member of their family was killed in a mass assassination. The men who killed their family are searching for them so they cannot use conventional methods to escape to the United States (or El Norte as it is referred to throughout).

I have to say that I enjoyed it. I thought it was very well paced and that it was an interesting story. However, I just couldn’t look on Lydia as a believable character. I didn’t like the occasional Spanish words that were dropped in mid-sentence either, it just didn’t read well for me.

Lydia and Luca are interesting characters, and the story of how Lydia has ended up in this situation is well combined with the story of their escape. I did think that the escape itself was well described and mirrors some stories and documentaries I have seen about “la bestia” and the plight of migrants from Guatemala and other countries. There were some moments that had my heart in my mouth and the author has a knack for getting your heart racing.

Overall, it was a quite good read, while for me it wasn’t up there as “a great read” I can understand why it is getting such high praise. I would still recommend it to people looking for something in the genre that is a little different.

I would like to finish by saying that I completely understand where people are coming from with the anger and hatred that is being directed towards this book, but at the end of the day it’s out there now. People are reading it, and people are enjoying it. If anything, this book may get people to read other books on the topic. Which, if you have written a book like this, can surely only be a good thing.

If you did enjoy American Dirt and are looking for other books about the topic please check out the MOUNTAIN of recommendations on the books Goodreads page – you will also see A LOT of opinions from people who both have and haven’t read the book. Make of it what you will.


I’d love to hear your opinions about this book so if you have read it or plan to, comment below.



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