Tag: immigrants

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

April 28th, 2020 — 10:05pm

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

This is clearly a page turner (a swiper for laptop and Kindle users) and a definite fascinating read. It will provide a sensitive in depth insight into the plight of immigrants striving to make it from Mexico as well as from Central and South America to the United States. The book depicts the deadly role of the cartel (gangs) and their cruel leaders along with their ruthless followers. You come to understand that if you resist the will of the leader, let alone publicly speak out against them, the result can be death to you and your family including children and relatives.

The main characters of the book are Lydia and her 8-year-old son Luca who experienced such a punishment to their entire family because of an anonymous newspaper article written by Lydia’s husband who was a journalist and wrote about a cartel leader. This sets off a journey to the north by the surviving mother and son to escape to the United States.

The reader feels the constant fears and dangers of the fleeing duo and the people who they meet along the way. Whether it is jumping on moving trains, unbearable thirst, fear of drug dealers, fear of the immigration police, or fears of being attacked by the people they meet along the way, it all comes across as a real and quite frightening.

The author has done her homework and appears to have recreated a slice of contemporary history that is not well known. I was not surprised to see that this book has been a great seller and received many positive reviews including one by the author Stephen King and in fact the book was one of Oprah’s book picks. Anticipating e success, from the very beginning was the fact that the author received a seven-figure advance for her manuscript. However, I was very surprised and interested to see that the book also received many negative reviews including disparaging attacks on the author by people who felt that as a white non-Hispanic she had no right to pen this book. Several Latino writers wrote that the novel was stereotyping and exploiting the suffering Mexican immigrants. Apparently, some book stores decided to cancel the author’s book tour because of fear of disruption.

I personally believe that the book can stand on its own. It seemed to me, that the main protagonists were good people whom I respected and would be very proud if they were my ancestors. I believe that even most of those who did not like the fact that the author wrote the book agreed that it was fascinating, suspenseful and a great read.

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Behold The Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

September 19th, 2017 — 5:11pm

Behold the Dreamers

By: Imbolo Mbue


There could not be a more pertinent book to read during the time period that I read this book. The immigration issue, DACA and related subjects are front and center in the current political discussions.

Imbolo Mbue has obviously had some very personal experiences depicted in this book about immigrants struggling to be able to stay in the United States and not be deported. This is the plight of the two main characters, Jende and Neni, a married couple from Cameroon in Africa now living in New York City and having two children. He works as a chauffeur for a wealthy businessman and Neni, his wife, takes care of the children and works, and is studying to be a pharmacist. They have a flimsy story as to why they should be allowed to stay in the United States and they are living from court date to court date with tremendous anxiety whether or not they will be deported.

There is a very engrossing storyline that makes a great drama as well as informing us of the nature of the relationship between these struggling immigrants. We come to understand the legal intrigues as well as the most personal feelings that may be experienced by people going through this situation.

The writing is excellent, although I had one complaint with the author’s style and format. During several points in the story, I was totally engrossed and on the edge of my seat swiping page after page on my iPad when the author adds a chapter that goes back in time in order to help develop the character or provide background information. I personally found that a distraction and wish she could have found another method to achieve her goal of enlightening the reader with more background.

I came away from this book with a new and deeper appreciation of the current immigration crisis. But really, as moving as this story, it is obviously a tale of only one couple and their individual story struggling for the right to stay in the United States. There must be thousands of other scenarios and I feel we have only scratched the surface but nevertheless it was a worthwhile experience.

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Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle

May 29th, 2012 — 1:25am

Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle– In the past few years I have read various books about the plight of oppressed immigrant groups as they struggle to make it in America at different times in our history. This includes, Chinese, Japanese, and of course European immigrants including Holocaust survivors. However this is the first book that I have read about this subject in which most of the action takes place in locations, which would be less than 15-minute drive from my home in Woodland Hills California. Tortilla Curtain is the story of Mexican immigrants struggling for a foothold in the America, which happens to be near and about Topanga Canyon in the San Fernando Valley. A young Mexican woman interestingly named “America” and her slightly older husband Candidio are smuggled across the border in in an effort to do what so many of our ancestors have done. That would be to attempt to achieve some version of what they see as the American dream. The other main focus of this story is Delaney, a self proclaimed liberal who lives with his wife Kyra, a successful real estate agent and her son Jordon from a previous marriage. They live in a spacious community that progresses from a gated community to a walled community because of the real and the perceived dangers from coyotes as well as from some of the Mexican immigrants. The author T.C. Boyle allows the reader to know both sets of characters and their back-story. We come to appreciate Delaney and his wife’s frustration as they see their beloved dogs snatched away by coyotes who follow their own natural inclination to survive. They also have a run in with some of illegal Mexican immigrants who we come to know as honest, hard working people who are following their own natural instincts to survive. They want to earn a living and provide for their themselves and ultimately for their family. Delaney is turned into an angry, revengeful, vicious man and his wife is depicted as a self-indulgent women.  As the story progresses the reader loses any empathy or identification, which they may originally, had for them. I neglected to say that Delaney by occupation is a writer who studied and wrote about nature and all it’s little creatures with special emphasis on the environment. This becomes an ironic point because it is the natural instincts of America and Candido as well as the other immigrants who are just also trying to survive in their environment which brings them into conflict with Delaney and his neighbors. Even a cursory study of the natural climate factors in this area would lead one to understand that FIRE is required to keep nature in balance but when a fire is accidentally set by those trying to survive or by  just by lightning, it becomes the immigrants who are blamed. This probably is not very much different than when the Jews are blamed for bad economic times or when any other persecuted group is blamed for the frustrations of the group in power.  This is a powerful story and if you live near where the story takes place, it feels more personal even if you truly believe that we are past most of this type of thinking

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