The Chetek Area Book Club will meet for an approximately hour-long discussion of “American Dirt,” by Jeanine Cummins, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 23, using Zoom, the video conferencing app.

Jeanine Cummins, author of a memoir and two novels, has written a compelling yet controversial third novel focusing on Mexican immigration. The story begins with 8-year-old Luca and his mother huddling in a shower stall at his grandmother’s home as three assassins from a drug cartel murder 16 members of his family that had gathered for his cousin’s quinceanera.

The overwhelming and emotional beginning pulls readers in, making the novel a true page turner. In fact, readers must read several chapters to learn who Luca’s mother is and what prompted the massacre. Sadly, Lydia knows why her family was murdered and realizes she and Luca must leave the country immediately.

Cummins describes their harrowing journey to the United States’ border in graphic detail. Of course, Lydia and Luca meet other desperate migrants along the way, some of whom they befriend. Unfortunately, the novel’s portrayal of its characters and situations has been roundly criticized because Cummins, an American white woman, lacks the credibility to write such a story. Cummins, herself, addresses the issue in her epilogue and acknowledges all the Latinx works she used for research.

“American Dirt” is available through MORE, Wisconsin’s digital library system.

No fees or commitments are required to join the Chetek Area Book Club. The monthly selections for 2021 are: “Little Faith: A Novel,” “Storied Life of AJ Fikry,” “The Inheritance of Loss,” “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” “Hamnet: A Novel of the Plague” and “Bucking the Sun: A Novel.” If interested, call Debbie Skozek at 815-861-9141.

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