American Dirt Book Review and April Book Pick

Thank goodness all of our days are running together because I need to convince you that today is actually April 1 and we’re discussing this month’s book pick American Dirt at the beginning of the month as promised. Ha! Even though I have so much more time on my hands than I did a month ago, I still only read right before bed and apparently at a snail’s pace. But I did finish American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins and I’m so glad that I did.

When Oprah chose American Dirt for her book club, she set off a fury in the Twitter-verse. Her followers were upset that she endorsed the story of a migrant’s experience as told through the eyes of a woman who identified as white. Yet Cummins, the author, never claimed this book to be anything other than fiction. And while it was well researched, the story is made up.

Cummins opens her book by introducing us to Lydia Quixano Pérez who 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 from 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.

Regardless of the author’s personal experience, she wrote a compelling and amazingly well-told story. She opened my eyes to what some people do to get to our country. Even if this particular story wasn’t true, I am sure there are migrants who can relate to the experience Cummins describes where there is almost nothing people won’t do for a chance at freedom. Cummins hooked me from the first chapter and I know this story will be tucked inside of me for days to come. Without being political, she definitely elevated the immigration conversation for…it’s definitely not as black and white as some might want it to be. Controversy aside, this book is definitely worth reading.

Let’s Chat

I’m so curious to know what you guys thought of this book. I’ll post my thoughts in the comments below.

  • What made you want to read American Dirt?
  • Does knowing the author’s experience change how you feel about the story?
  • Does it make you think about the journey of a migrant worker differently?

April’s Book Pick: And They Called It Camelot–A Novel of Jacqueline Kennedy Bouvier Onassis

I don’t know about you guys, but I need a light and breezy read for April. So when my pal Di Grumhaus (from the Lake Forest Book Store) gave Stephanie Marie Thornton’s new novel And They Called It Camelot: A Novel of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis two giant thumbs up, I was all in! Here’s a tease of what it’s all about.

“Few of us can claim to be the authors of our fate. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy knows no other choice. With the eyes of the world watching, Jackie uses her effortless charm and keen intelligence to carve a place for herself among the men of history and weave a fairy tale for the American people, embodying a senator’s wife, a devoted mother, a First Lady—a queen in her own right.

But all reigns must come to an end. Once JFK travels to Dallas and the clock ticks down those thousand days of magic in Camelot, Jackie is forced to pick up the ruined fragments of her life and forge herself into a new identity that is all her own, that of an American legend.” (From

It sounds soooo good! Let’s circle back on Friday, May 15, and we’ll discuss.

Happy reading!


My name is Ann Marie Scheidler and I'm thrilled you've decided to check out my blog. I'm a pearl-loving yogi with a thing for travel, a weakness for beautiful bags, and a passion for storytelling. In this space, I'll be sharing stories about my family, go-to recipes, my wellness journey, fashion and beauty favorites, and my love for Chicago’s North Shore. I find new inspiration wherever I go. Thanks so much for coming along for the ride!


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  1. Ann Marie Scheidler wrote:

    Here are my answers to the questions I posed above.1. What made you want to read American Dirt?I have to admit, I was very curious about what all of the controversy was about. Typically, if everyone says this is a book you have to read, I’m often let down, but American Dirt didn’t disappoint at all. Maxwell Gregory from the Lake Forest Book Store told me months ago that I had to read this book and she was absolutely right.2. Does knowing the author’s experience change how you feel about the story?For me, no. Again, it’s fiction, but I know this author did her homework. I don’t think she told this story with any intentional bias and she certainly made me think.3. Does it make you think about the journey of a migrant worker differently?1000%. I assumed their lives were difficult, but I don’t think I could even imagine to the extent as it’s outlined in American Dirt.

    Posted 4.16.20 Reply
  2. Chris Kelley wrote:

    1). I think this was on the bookclub list at the Lake Forest Bookstore, and they always have good selections. It’s also covering a topic that I don’t know much about.2). No, the author’s experience didn’t change my mind. I was interested in reading about this topic and learning more. Many people have to escape terrible situations this way, and I think it’s important to understand what they go through.3). Absolutely! Especially when you learn about the far reaching influence of a national drug cartel. How scary! I also feel that I better understand the amazing volunteers who have helped these migrants in various ways. I know a doctor in Lake Forest who has been to South America several times to help the migrants with medical needs along their train journey. It is so wonderful that he shares his gifts to help others in that way. This book gave me a better understanding of why he chose to help that specific group of people and what their needs are. I’m really glad I read this book!

    Posted 4.20.20 Reply
    • Krina Huddlestun wrote:

      I really loved this book. There were some moments when I needed to give the author a little grace, but it didn’t distract too much from the underlying message of the book.In the 90s, I lived and worked as a teacher in Costa Rica. If I ever said I was “American”, I would quickly be corrected by a Costa Rican who would say, “We are all Americans, you are a United Statesian”.So while I read this book, and I learned the harrowing stories of the migrants fromMexico and Central American, I kept thinking of that phrase in Spanish “Todos Somos Americanos” “We are all Americans”. And as, Americans in this together, we are failing our fellow citizens of the Americas. People should not live in fear like this. This is our real American Dirt. This dirty secret. I am glad this is coming to light.

      Posted 4.21.20 Reply