Book review: ‘American Dirt’ by Jeannine Cummins

By LARRY BALLWAHN | Wilton

Lydia was particularly aware that the drug cartels had moved into Acapulco. Not only were there the gruesome deaths associated with the gang warfare, but her husband, Sebastian Delgado, a journalist, wrote about cartel activity. Among his subjects was Javier Fuentes, the head of the dominant cartel in Acapulco. Lydia knew Javier as a friend and customer of her bookstore. Never did she suspect that the article would result in the violent death of Sebastian and all who were close to her but her 8-year-old son, Luca. He lived only because she hid with him in the corner of their shower until the massacre was over.

Fear for her life, but especially for her son’s life, governed Lydia’s actions following the brutal deaths of her family — 16 people gunned down by the cartel, apparently because of her husband’s article. Using a series of dodges, she and Luca manage to get to Mexico City. From there, the plan was to fly somewhere nonstop to a city that was near the border of the United States. She then hoped to find a way across the border, hopefully to relatives in Denver. Fortunately, she had money; she and her husband had saved, and her mother had died, making her bank account available to Lydia. The plan was shattered when Luca could not fly without a birth certificate.

Suddenly they were migrants. Migrants who knew Javier Fuentes and his cartel had a long reach. They needed to get out of Mexico. The fact that they had money available, while helpful, was not going to be the solution. They were migrants, but unlike most of the others, Lydia knew nothing about it except that they were going to have to ride freight trains north. How did people even get on the top of those trains? Most of the cities had “safety” fences to stop migrants from boarding while the train slowed. Climbing the cars as they gained speed was not realistic with an 8-year-old.

Fortunately, Lydia and Luca met Soledad and Rebecca, teen sisters who had already traveled from Honduras. The sisters explained that the overpasses were not yet fenced and showed them how to jump from overpasses to the top of freight cars. Luca and the younger sister made a connection, and the four were soon traveling together.

Traveling on top of freight cars was uncomfortable and dangerous. The reception at the various stops varied, but usually there was a religious group that provided the migrants with food and water. As they entered the last leg of the rail journey, the migrants were assured that they would be robbed and worse. Yet most of them went on. They had little choice.

There were additions to the traveling party, Beto and Lorenzo. That was not necessarily good; Beto had severe asthma, and Lorenzo had a working phone and the tattoo of a cartel member. There were the problems forecast and more. But the group did get to Nogales and did locate an honest coyote named El Chacal. They started the trip that would take them across the border, but they were not done with their problems.

Comments are closed.

  • Book review: ‘The Color of Lightning’ by Paulette Jiles

    January 20th, 2022
    by

    By LARRY BALLWAHN | Wilton I ordered “The Color of Lighting” from the library because I had read that it […]


    Norwalk Lions donate to SACS

    January 14th, 2022
    by

    The Norwalk Lions Club celebrated the 70th anniversary of the foundation of their club (Jan. 8, 1952) on Saturday at the American Legion Hall in Wilton.


    CWD found in Monroe County

    January 11th, 2022
    by

    The two deer were adult bucks harvested in the towns of Ridgeville and Glendale. These are the first confirmed wild positive cases of CWD in Monroe County.


    Covid-19 surge causes Vernon County to scale back contact tracing

    January 11th, 2022
    by

    With heavy hearts we are sharing that today we hit surge capacity with contact tracing at the Vernon County Health Department due to rising daily cases of Covid-19 in our community.


    KVR Winter Festival is Saturday

    January 6th, 2022
    by

    The Kickapoo Valley Reserve will host its 21st annual Winter Festival on Saturday, Jan. 8. 


  • Donations, sponsorships sought for Norwalk flower baskets

    January 6th, 2022
    by

    One of the highlights of driving through Norwalk in the summer are the flower baskets hanging from the light poles and the planters lining the street. 


    Man injured in Clinton logging accident

    January 4th, 2022
    by

    A 41-year-old man was severely injured in an Amish logging accident Monday in the town of Clinton, according to the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office.


    Hawthorne named CEO of Scenic Bluffs Community Health Centers

    December 24th, 2021
    by

    Scenic Bluffs Community Health Centers recently announced that Kim Hawthorne has been appointed as chief executive officer of the organization. 


    Royall Education Notes: Booster Club Alumni Weekend set for Jan. 14–15

    December 24th, 2021
    by

    By MARK GRUEN | Royall School District superintendent Happy holidays!  As we roll into the holiday season, I want to […]


    Monroe County Health Department offering free Covid-19 vaccines

    December 24th, 2021
    by

    The Monroe County Health Department will offer appointments for free Covid-19 vaccinations at its office location, 315 W. Oak St., Sparta, on Monday, Dec. 27, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. 


    Gundersen Health System: ‘The situation is serious. We need your help.’

    December 21st, 2021
    by

    We are facing a dire situation together. Gundersen Health System hospitals are at or near capacity with patients struggling with Covid-19 and other serious illnesses and injuries.


  • Archives