Regina Rodríguez-Martin, aka blogger Chicana on the Edge, read and reviewed Jeanine Cummins American Dirt as a public service.
Her review starts like this:
Three weeks ago I got an email announcing a new book club for women over 50, and the first novel they were going to read was Jeanine Cummins’ American Dirt. The novel focuses on a Mexican woman’s journey from her home in Acapulco to the U.S, crossing without papers in extremely dangerous ways.
Then I read about the book’s big controversy. Latinos were angry about the red carpet treatment given to this book written by a white woman because Mexican Americans telling similar stories don’t get nearly as much attention from publishers. The most scathing review was written by Myriam Gurba (and I urge you to read it). I would usually pass on a book like this.
Why I decided to read it
1. I wanted to be part of the new book club’s discussion to make sure at least one Latina was there.
2. Sandra Cisneros, one of the most well-respected Mexican American writers ever, endorsed American Dirt and stands by it. On NPR’s Latino USA, she said it could reach an audience her books couldn’t. I wanted to see what she meant by that.
3. I decided that rather than critically dog-pile on this book without reading it, it would be fairer to read it first and then dog-pile.
4. Some of us Latinos have to watch what white people are writing about us. By reading this 441-page novel, I’m taking one for the team. But it’s not so bad because I read fast and have two degrees in literature (I almost did my dissertation on Mexican American women authors, but instead chose to flee academia).
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