American Dirt

Version: Unabridged
Author: Jeanine Cummins
Narrator: Yareli Arizmendi , Jeanine Cummins
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Horror
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Published In: January 2020
# of Units: 16 CDs
Length: 16 hours
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#1 New York Times Bestseller

“Extraordinary.”—Stephen King

“This book is not simply the great American novel; it’s the great novel of las Americas. It’s the great world novel! This is the international story of our times. Masterful.”—Sandra Cisneros

También de este lado hay sueños. On this side too, there are dreams.

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

American Dirt will leave listeners utterly changed. It is a literary achievement filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity. It is one of the most important books for our times.

Already being hailed as 'a Grapes of Wrath for our times' and 'a new American classic,' Jeanine Cummins's American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.

'Narrator Yareli Arizmendi illuminates the humanity and individuality of Latin American migrants as they flee toward refuge in the North..The account of Lydia and Luca's travails, including terrifying rides atop Mexico's freight trains, is utterly compelling. But it is Arizmendi's voicing of Lydia, so full of fierce tenderness, that will stay with listeners after the story's close.'—AudioFile Magazine

Reviews (33)

Written by Hannah G. on May 25th, 2020

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Excellent story.


Written by Anonymous on May 23rd, 2020

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Well done. I have to remember it is a novel, however. It has me interested in reading more documentary accounts of the same topic. I felt the language was beautiful; so descriptive and emotional. The narrator did a fine job. I have recommended this book to many of my reader friends. Thank you.


Written by Anonymous on May 21st, 2020

  • Book Rating: 5/5

This was a great novel! I finished a few days ago, but can’t stop thinking about it. It definitely will make me think differently about immigration for the rest of my life!! The characters were amazing and strong and reading it you just knew this is what people are going through everyday just to get here!

Written by Jeff M. on May 21st, 2020

  • Book Rating: 5/5

This book will stick with me for a long time.

Written by Effie P. on May 12th, 2020

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Incredible story. Highly descriptive of the characters interior and exterior experiences. A universal story of resilience and transcendence despite hate and trauma sustained. Through the lives and struggles of these human beings making their journey to the US, we get an in depth look at what each of them is escaping from and what it’s truly like to be a migrant on the run from Latin America seeking asylum up North. This story gives them a voice and a face and in the process enlightens and elicits empathy. The author (regardless of her background) is an incredible storyteller and deserving of every accolade for this masterpiece. Her background and ethnicity should not be held against her in any way; she has used her own insight and imagination to craft a masterful tale, a feat not many can accomplish regardless of background and ethnicity. If people would like to pick a fight, then they should target the publishing world at large so that they can further expand publication opportunities for Latin American authors. That would be the rightful battle to wage instead of targeting an exceptional author who has every right to offer this beautiful book to the world.

Written by Nickie W. on May 11th, 2020

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I enjoyed the story. Heart wrenching journey. Highly recommend this book.

Written by Rebecca L. on April 28th, 2020

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Easy to listen to, descriptive, especially if the multiple tragedies that happen to the main characters and people they meet along the way. Decent character development.

Written by Ulrike H. on April 27th, 2020

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Loved this book! This story is truly moving and a great way to open our eyes to the other side of immigration


Written by Elizabeth R. on April 24th, 2020

  • Book Rating: 5/5

If I could give more stars for this book, I would. I only recently re-read The Grapes of Wrath and the comparisons are apt. Jeanine Cummins' masterpiece is such an eye opener to the atrocities migrants endure as they trek north, attempting to escape the worst of mankind. The death grip the drug cartels have on the peoples of Mexico and South American countries was something I understood only peripherally. The stark reality is much, much worse than most people who have not read this book or studied the situation can know. This book is heartbreaking, riveting and truly a must-read. I am so fortunate to be a Canadian.


Written by Elvira L. on April 23rd, 2020

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I enjoyed this book and could not wait to get back to listening to it. I liked the voice of our narrator, which matched the descriptive feelings, places, even things like the intensity of heat, cold, and smells. The author takes you there without being there. You could put the book down when you needed to. It is difficult to witness the pain and suffering of people in our world, but we have to know that these kinds of things happen. The author could have told a full story from any one of these characters, and she chose to tell Lydia's story, but you have just enough information to empathise with the other characters. The storyline is heart heavy; it is a beautifully written story. Personally, my orphaned father was only 10 when he and his brother walked back and forth across the Texas border with no problem. I used to think, did I remember my father's story right - just ten years old? It can't be, but I think so. My father passed into his forever home and is no longer around to ask how it was to cross the border. Thank you for this story.

Author Details

Author Details

Cummins, Jeanine

Jeanine Cummins is the author of the novels The Outside Boy and The Crooked Branch, and the bestselling memoir A Rip in Heaven. She lives in New York with her husband and two children.