Hut's Place
 Weekly Words about New Books in
Independent Bookstores

January 19, 2020

First Big Book of 2020 Is a Timely,  Moving Novel That Puts a Human Face to Immigration
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. I first heard about this extraordinary novel last summer, but buzz in the bookselling world began almost a year ago, and it has built steadily to a near frenzy as American Dirt hits bookstore shelves on Tuesday. It 's the story of a middle-class mother and young son forced to beat a hasty retreat from their Acapulco home to escape the head of a drug cartel who wants them dead, and it's already been heralded as a modern-day Grapes of Wrath. In recounting their harrowing journey north to America as migrants, Cummins has created what author Ann Patchett has called "both a moral compass and a riveting read," while adding, "I couldn't put it down. I'll never stop thinking about it."  
With Lydia's husband murdered and their own lives in danger, she and eight-year-old Luca flee  - both from and for their lives. Instantly transformed into migrants, mother and son soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable existence, joining countless other displaced people trying to reach America. Their best bet is to hitch a ride on la bestia - trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place the cartel's reach doesn't extend. In Cummins' capable hands, it's a harrowing journey filled with apprehension and despair, but also hope.  
Enthusiasm for the book has been amazing and includes praise from a wide range of fellow authors, from the aforementioned Ann Patchett and Sandra Cisneros to Stephen King and John Grisham. As for critics, there are plenty of rave reviews to choose from, but this from NPR's Maureen Corrigan is a good example: "American Dirt is a literary novel with nuanced character development and arresting language; yet, its narrative hurtles forward with the intensity of a suspense tale. Its most profound achievement, though, is something I never could've been told...American Dirt is the novel that, for me, nails what it's like to live in this age of anxiety, where it feels like anything can happen, at any moment." 
Lots of Laughs From Creative Comics
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Hi, I'm Hut Landon, and I work as a bookseller in an independent bookstore in BerkeIey, California.

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