Updated: Mar 30, 2020
"I don't want to cause trouble for anyone, I just want to get Luca out of here". Lydia (Mommy) has one objective, and that is the protection of her son, eight-year-old Luca. Mommy abandons her once comfortable, middle-class life in Acapulco after her family is slaughtered by the Mexican cartel. She will cross any boundary and assume many risks to ensure Luca's safety, whether it be concealing and altering identities, slipping through border patrol, launching and hoisting themselves aboard the top of high-speed freight trains, or traversing across the scorching desert, and mountainous regions through torrential rains.
This novel, American Dirt, written by Jeanine Cummins (www.JeanineCummins.com) and selected for Oprah's Book Club (www.Oprah.com/App/Books.html), has caused quite a stir. The Latino community and writers like Julissa Arce (www.Twitter.com/JulissaArce) suggest that, until recently, Ms. Cummins did not identify with the Latino population, that the story contains injurious stereotypes of Mexicans, and that it is appalling that publishers force Latinx writers to alter their stories to make them more acceptable to white people.
Despite the controversy, I give the book five stars. I read this book via Audible books (www.Audible.com) and tuned in while cooking, on the treadmill, at restaurants, and during commutes. This book is masterfully written and one that I literally slowed down in reading because I didn't want to reach the end. I attribute much of that to the narrator, Yareli Arizmendi (www.Yareli.com), who further dramatizes and elucidates the novel. Without Yareli Arizmendi's perfect pronunciation and enunciation of Spanish words, I would have stumbled and tripped over sounds and proper nouns, despite my familiarity with the language. Now that I'm finished, I have this nine-hour audible on repeat!
Mothers, migrants, immigrants, refugees, and anyone in search of a better life will have an appreciation for this story. Will Mommy and Luca survive? Will Mommy save Luca by helping him escape to el Norte? Who's side of the controversy are you on: Ms. Cummins or can you relate to the argument of Latinx writers?
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