After I finish a book, I often check the reviews on the Internet. How surprised I was to read negative criticism of Jeanine Cummins’ novel. Reviewers criticize her stereotypical characters, which paint a negative portrait of all of Mexico. Perhaps the stereotypical characters criticism has some merit, although I found the characters fully developed and realistic. Certainly, a novel about a drug cartel is going to show negative aspects of a country, but Cummins counters those dark views with love, hope, and a desire for a better life. Some reviewers criticize Cummins for not being a Latina. Cummins clearly feels empathy for the victims in this novel. Today many people are criticized for not feeling empathy; the author of this novel most definitely feels compassion for the victims in her novel. People of one race or ethnic background cannot write about other races or ethnic peoples? Don’t tell John Steinbeck.
My hands couldn’t keep up with my eyes as I read this spellbinding tale. A mother, Lydia, and her eight-year-old son, Luca, hide in the bathtub while sixteen members of their family are murdered. Lydia and Luca immediately head north for the United States to escape the drug cartel. Cummins has researched her topic well as she presents a riveting tale of migrants fleeing for their lives. Cummins most definitely feels the fear and the grief of these people, and brings that fear and grief to the reader’s soul.
Read this book and you’ll feel empathy for the migrant.