Now that I’ve outed myself as a librarian, we may as well talk about books. Or book, as is the case at the moment. Last week I finished reading American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins and I’ve been thinking (and talking) about it ever since.

American Dirt came to my attention when a neighbor (another librarian) mentioned it on Facebook with the following:

Any locals want to read American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins? I’d like it to make the rounds before it comes out in January so speak up if you can read it quickly then pass on with the same stipulation . I started it this morning and could not put it down!

I knew nothing about the book prior to this, but I’m always open to a new book, particularly when it gets delivered to the milk box on my front porch. Since reading the novel, I’ve come to learn that the author received a seven figure advance and Clint Eastwood’s production company has purchased the film rights. Basically, this book has major buzz.

You know how it is, I hope, when you read a book and purposefully slow down as you get closer to the end of the story because you just don’t want it to end? That was my experience reading this intense story of the harrowing journey taken by a woman and her eight year old son as they struggle to escape a certain death at the hands of a Mexican drug cartel.

The story centers upon Lydia, a middle-class bookstore owner and the wife of a journalist, and her son, Luca. Lifelong residents of Acapulco, Mexico, they have, through a miracle of fate, survived the massacre of most of their family, an unspeakable act committed by the henchman of one of Mexico’s newest and most violent drug lords in response to an investigative piece written by Lydia’s husband.

The wall our current president yearns to build along our southern border is a minor barrier when compared to the chasm between safety and death that Lydia and Luca face as they make the arduous trip from Acapulco to the United States. As they make their way north in constant fear, often riding on the tops of trains, Lydia must make decisions that could at any moment cost them their lives.

Kindness from strangers is suspect in a country in which drug cartels have infiltrated every social, political and corporate organization. The journey is exhausting – financially, physically and emotionally without a moment’s respite from being on constant alert. Lydia’s resources are depleted and the final leg of the trek, made through desert canyons and mountains, left me awed by her courage and fortitude.

I’ve never imagined being in constant fear for my life. Never before have I truly considered the efforts exerted by people seeking refuge from a violent death at the hands of a drug cartel. Now I can’t stop thinking, or reading, about it.

Read this book.