“She sticks her hand through the fence and wiggles her fingers on the other side. Her finger are in el norte. She spits through the fence. Only to leave a piece of herself there on American dirt.”
― Jeanine Cummins
Why I’m Reading this Book?
I wasn’t aware of this book until it was recommended to me through my library. Later I discovered that it was at 3rd place in the Goodreads choice awards fiction category for 2020. That solidified my interest in reading this. I also read somewhere that it was a controversial book because a white person has written about Mexican, but I don’t care about that much. If a book is good, it’s good irrespective of writer’s roots. Also later on it was established that writer’s grandmother was puerto-rican, so there you go.
Lydia, the latest victim of gang violence in Acapulco, runs for her and her son Luca’s life, towards the north, which is USA. Story tells about the plight of migrants coming from south American countries, horrific conditions they face at home and during their migration and how sometimes after enduring so much, they won’t make it.
Lydia, who belongs to an upper middle class family, runs a bookstore in the Mexican city of Acapulco. Her husband is a journalist and considering his job functions and city which is riddled with drug cartels, it’s specifically a dangerous job.
Lydia, unwittingly, befriends a head of drug cartel and soon this dangerous association and her husband’s job collide violently and destructs everything. What came out of rubble was Lydia, Luca and their wish to survive and from there story takes us on an unbelievable journey which is actually true for hundreds of migrants making that journey every day.
Lydia has to stay on her toes all the time, because reach of cartel is everywhere, she has to keep her wits about for boarding La bestia(the Beast), a cargo train which is sometimes also referred to as death train, she has to constantly be at edge to figure out if she can trusts a fellow traveller or not, all while Luca’s innocence is slowly whittling away. All this she has to brave with no definite promise of what would happen in North.
Although most have heard about migrant’s experience and it’s intuitively known to be dangerous, but reading about them specifically, makes it very real. And because Lydia was portrayed as someone with a good social standing and fair financial situation, makes it more horrifying. Not that misery is less when it’s someone poor, but reading about a person who can easily be you or me, carves the impression very deep.
There were some interesting facts too, like how USA has hogged the word American. American doesn’t mean only people from USA. There are multitudes of culture and people who are and consider themselves American and they belong to north and south America both.
Overall this book has left very profound impact to my psyche and I promised myself to be reasonable and look at humane aspects of migrant’s journey which in a political environment and agendas, we sometimes seem to forget.
My Rating — 4
On the scale of: (1- Hate , 2- Neither like nor dislike, 3- Like, 4- Love, 5- Gaga)
Why anyone else should read this Book?
Book offers an insight in a migrant’s journey. As fellow human, I think it’s our responsibility to know what do they face. South American migration is not the only one in the world. People all around the world are running away from the violence at home and such books steer us towards compassion in such cases.
Book is a fast pace easy read, with no-frills and plain naked straight forward story. Hence, although subject matter is hard to read, easy language makes it a facile reading.
The more you read, the more you will know about things. Have an enchanting Read a Book Day ahead of you!!!