First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.

American-Dirt-by-Jeanine-Cummins

“Lydia Quixano Perez 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 form 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 readers utterly changed. It is a literary achievement filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page. It is one of the most important books of our times.”

It is out of my character but I am actually reading a third consecutive book that is not a backlist. As I have mentioned in most of my post, I am the backlist type of reader so reading three consecutive books published in the current year is, well, an incredible feat, a once in a blue moon event. After Kate Elizabeth Russell’s My Dark Vanessa and Abi Dare’s The Girl With the Louding Voice, my third read for the month is Jeanine Cummins’ American Dirt.

I’ve observed that American writers tend to attach “America/n” to their book’s title. Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage, and Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho are just among these book titles with “American” on them. American Dirt just joined their ranks. The book stirred quite the controversy (just like My Dark Vanessa) even before it got published earlier this year. The noise it generated naturally piqued my curiosity post-publication. Unfortunately, it wasn’t included in my 2020 Top 10 Books I Look Forward to List but it merited enough for me to pick up a copy of the book and start reading it.

Cummins’ storytelling was smooth that I am nearly halfway through the narrative even though I just started reading it yesterday. American Dirt is the story of Lydia Quixano Perez who, together with her son, fled her hometown of Acapulco after her family was gunned down during a family gathering. Her husband, Sebastian is a journalist deeply engaged in exposing the underground cartel afoot in Acapulco. Because of his involvement, Sebastian’s family was vulnerable to death threats which finally materialized one day.

American Dirt created quite an entrance for it opened with an ambush. Luckily surviving the ambush, Lydia planned to run away as far as possible from Acapulco. Her story weaves between the past and the present. The dive to the past is actually an interesting one for it created a thread that connected her to the man hunting her down. It was a shocking revelation at the start of the novel but it was mentioned casually. It is this reason that made me echo one of the character’s concern on Lydia’s retreat. Is she really sure that someone is coming after her?

A significant part of what I have read so far is about Lydia’s escape. I didn’t expect the story to be an adventure one (well, technically it is not an adventure). On the backdrop, Cummins painted a bloody picture of Mexico, especially its burgeoning problem on drugs, murder, and private armies. Nothing is new, nor is there anything that is deemed “too controversial”. This is something that I am still trying to unravel from the story. This suspense is propelling me forward. I know that somewhere down the line, Lydia’s story will merge with the current issues in the United States.

I still have a lot to unravel in the story and the tenterhook is keeping me at the edge of my seat. Ironically, after the initial adrenaline rush caused by the blistering opening chapters, the plot started to get a little passive. I am hoping something happens soon that will further blow it out. Thankfully, the language is light and easy to decipher. With the story’s upbeat and quick pace, I am pretty sure I can complete the book over the weekend.

How about you fellow reader, what book are you going to read this weekend? I hope it is a book that you’ve been looking forward to. Moreover, I hope you enjoy it. Keep safe! And happy weekend!