American Dirt

By Megan Thomas

I was reluctant, due to the controversy around its publication. However, when it popped up as 99p for Kindle on Amazon, it seemed the perfect opportunity to weigh in on the conversation.

I understand the importance of stories being told authentically and that there is a lot to be said on profiting off of a community’s pain while remaining so far removed from it. However, I learnt a huge amount from this story about a woman and her young son fleeing Mexico and crossing into the US with nothing but the clothes on their backs and every scrap of money left to their family name. Were the teachings superficial or stereotypical? Perhaps. But it has sparked a flame of shock, curiosity and empathy which I believe I will take further from this original source – something I find fiction is often better suited to inspiring than non-fiction. That comes later, once the spark catches. I think it’s important for people to use their voices to do this when it comes to fiction, even if it isn’t necessarily their story to tell.

As for the plot: this is a harrowing story which tells of the horrific ordeal that so many people endure. From perilously riding on top of trains, eating when food is available, sleeping under the protection of strangers, and all that being preferable to the alternative of staying.

At times I felt the characters were developed only to be set aside for multiple chapters while we met characters who, by that stage, we were very invested in. But mostly, my heart raced with these terrified, brave people driven by love, grief, trauma and hope.

What did you think?

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