When adventure meets resilience in the face of adversity, that’s where American Dirt is born. This New York Times bestseller tells the story of Lydia Davis, a woman and mother with a beautiful family, living in Acapulco, Mexico, until she loses everything she once had.
When a drug cartel targets her and her family for revenge, she must flee with her young son, Luca, to cross the vacant desert of northern Mexico towards safety. Along their journey, they encounter corrupt authorities and brutal gangs who threaten their lives but it is Lydia’s courage and determination that keeps them safe until the very end.
Join me with my list of some of the amazing book club questions for American Dirt, where I discuss Lydia’s journey, traits, and her story of immeasurable courage – the story where she risks it all for what’s the most important aspect of one’s life – family.
And in case you want to read what the book is about and know my opinion, I have a detailed blog post here – American Dirt Book Review.
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American Dirt Book Club Questions
- Sebastián’s article had a negative impact on Lydia’s life, as it ultimately led to the massacre of her family and forced her to flee from Los Jardineros. However, it also shed light on the corruption and violence within the cartel and could potentially bring about change in the long run.
Do you think a journalist’s responsibility is to report the truth no matter what, or should they be more cautious about withholding certain information from their articles, especially when it comes to saving one’s family?
- Lydia is a successful business owner and a loving mother who is forced to flee her home in the wake of certain events. Her experience challenges the stereotypes and prejudices about migrants in the United States by showing that they are not all criminals or “bad hombres,” as portrayed in some media and political rhetoric.
- The book refers to the idea that the journey to the United States is often perilous and difficult, as migrants must travel across dangerous terrain and face many obstacles. It also suggests that the United States is a place of opportunity and hope, a place where people can make a better life for themselves and their families.
Why do you think every citizen in this world looks at our country as the land where all our problems will be solved? As a citizen, I am proud but as they say, we have a lot of issues of our own. Do you think we should solve our internal struggles first and then follow them up by lending a helping hand to others?
- What role do you think the United States government and other Latin American countries should play in terms of providing assistance and protection to migrants, both legal and undocumented?
Also, for people, especially mothers like Lydia, what forms of assistance can be offered to help them not only survive but also thrive in their new home?
- Marisol’s deportation from America left her desperate to be reunited with her daughters. Despite having no delusions of being brave or heroic, she still stands out as a hero in this situation. A closer examination of Marisol’s story serves to show why she is deserving of the title ‘hero.’
Do you think this statement is justified?
- Motherhood is a central theme in the novel, as Lydia’s love for her son Luca is the driving force behind her decisions and actions. She is willing to risk everything to keep him safe and give him a better life. Lydia’s experience as a mother also shapes her interactions with other migrants, particularly the sisters Soledad and Rebeca, whom she sees as surrogate daughters.
Do you think this novel brings out the sacrifice and challenges that come with motherhood combined with the strength and resilience it requires?
- The sharp contrast between the flags of the US and Mexico on the lines of the border is a clear testimony of the economic debilitation of the two countries. One is bright and shiny, while the other one is dusty and gloomy.
Do you think there is any other way to present this inequality?
- American Dirt has been described as a book of Mexican migrants by a Non-Mexican author.
Do you think a person who has not experienced something so traumatic firsthand writes such a story without an appropriate amount of sensitivity?
- Lydia’s travels from the South West coast of Mexico to the American border were never an easy one, but her journey was more of a necessity than a choice. Similarly, in life, we are presented with times when hardships and tough decisions are the need of the hour.
What do you think this book teaches us about life’s difficult choices?
- American Dirt was chosen at Oprah’s Book Club, and Jeanine Cummins was also offered a seven-figure amount for her publishing rights.
After reading the book in its entirety, what is your take on the hype and the attention it has been receiving? In your opinion, is it deserving of such high praise?
- The novel portrays the traumas faced by migrants during their journeys, including violence, kidnapping, trafficking, and robbery. However, the novel’s focus on traumatic events also risks falling into trauma tourism, with some readers expressing concern that the book exploits real-world tragedies to create a gripping story.
Do you agree? If yes, discuss.
- The title of the book, American Dirt, refers to the perilous journey that Lydia and her son, Luca, take to reach the United States, which involves crossing the Mexican border into the US. The title also reflects the way in which the novel challenges the American dream by presenting a stark contrast between the idealized vision of the US as a land of opportunity and the harsh realities faced by those who seek to enter it illegally.
If you liked this list of questions, here are a few other options for you to explore.
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All the Light We Cannot See: Get swept away in the mesmerizing tale of Marie-Laure, a blind girl, and Werner, a German boy, as their lives intertwine amidst the chaos of WWII. Experience their struggle, bravery, and the enduring power of human kindness.
An American Marriage: In the midst of their picture-perfect life, newlyweds Celestial and Roy are torn apart when he’s wrongly imprisoned. An American Marriage is a captivating tale of love, loss, and the resilience that propels us forward.