American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“Lydia is dubious at first, but if you can’t trust a librarian, who can you trust? She and Luca both get cards, and it’s miraculous, restorative, life-changing.”
In the midst of the controversy, I chose to read American Dirt. I have been reading reviews and listening to discussions of Latinx writers. I am sympathetic to their argument and there is so much truth in what they are saying. But as a work of fiction and a supporter of intellectual freedom, I do not believe in putting creative restrictions on works of literature based on the writer’s ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, etc. That, after all, is the slippery slope that leads to censorship.
While the book did have inconsistencies and may have not been “authentical enough”, I don’t think this book was racist and I don’t think Jeanine Cummins intentionally meant to be insensitive. I think there will always be credibility issues when an author tries to write from a perspective they don’t have first-hand knowledge of. I enjoyed the book for what it was, a fast-paced exciting thriller.
For me, the important thing that all of this did was bring to light the fact that middle-class America does not read the outstanding community of marginalized authors who have so much insight to add to stories like these. I, for one, am excited to open myself up to a world of incredible diverse authors who will give a genuine perspective on real-world issues such as the ones covered in this novel.