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59 pages 1 hour read

Jeanine Cummins

American Dirt

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2020

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Themes

Parental Love

The loving relationships between parents and their children anchor the novel. Foremost among these is the bond between Lydia and Luca. Lydia expresses her love for her son in myriad ways, most especially by protecting him. For example, she shoves him into the corner of her mother’s shower and curls her body around his during the massacre (Chapter 1), she distracts him by finding shapes in the clouds when an immigration agent beats another migrant (Chapter 21), and she stops to bandage his foot during the trek through the desert—an act that separates them from the group with potentially deadly consequences (Chapter 32). While many parents shield their children from hearing things they are too young to process, Lydia’s drive to protect Luca leads her to share frightening information with him in Chapter 12: “Lydia hesitates, because everything she’s ever thought about protecting Luca has changed now. She doesn’t want him to be afraid. But she needs him to be very afraid […] ‘We are still in danger’” (116). Despite her own trauma, Lydia shepherds Luca away from the site of the massacre all the way to Maryland. Her strength is born out of love and terror: “She is here with Luca and she will protect him at all costs.

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Related Titles

By Jeanine Cummins