19 Days and 1626 Miles of the Migrant Experience
I have a friend who is continuously horrified by the fact that migrant children have been separated from their parents as they cross the border into the United States. I have been concerned about this but not quite horrified, until I read American Dirt.
The book tells the story of Lydia and her eight-year-old son, Luca, who are running from a drug cartel in their hometown of Acapulco. The book opens with a massacre of 16 members of their family. All of these people are attending a birthday party and are targets because of Lydia’s husband, Sebastian. He is a journalist who wrote about the cartel, and who also perished that day.
Before too many pages pass, the reader is on the run with Lydia and Luca, journeying from Acapulco to American dirt. Every step is terrifying and Lydia knows that if they do make it across the border, there is every possibility that she and Luca will be separated there.
Bingo! “Living” such a journey with them – 19 days and 1626 miles – I moved from concerned to horrified.I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding this book, which was an Oprah’s Book Club pick in 2020. People complain that it is just a white woman’s interpretation of the migrant experience, and they diminish its value for that reason. I disagree. It sure taught this reader a thing or two. I was terrified throughout the reading of this book. The last 50 pages were almost unbearable. I am impressed with the author’s writing skills to evoke so much emotion in me – and to give me empathy for the migrant experience.
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