I made it through American Dirt. Whew! I have opinions but probably not the ones the raging mob want me to have. The greatest tragedy of this book is that a really, really important topic got tackled by a really, really bad writer.
For the love of God Oprah stop with the book picks. I stopped reading her picks a long time ago. You can only get burned so many times before you realize she kills it in life and business but when it comes to good book taste someone numbed her palate years ago. They don’t even have the fun of being self aware trashy. Her picks are filled with yearning earnest awfulness. You can’t be successful at everything so I’m guessing she’s ok with this shortcoming.
Back to the book. As a 1st generation daughter of a family hailing from one of the countries that probably most of America had no idea even existed on a map until a few years ago when the shit hit the fan, I have some perspective on this topic. We came very legally. My father fought in Korea. My mother came first for boarding and then college. They both stayed. Growing up, many not so veiled racist comments were thrown my way like we had money because we sold drugs. The comedy in that is high if you’ve ever met my parents. More so if we sold drugs I’d sure as heck have expected a much more opulent life. And that was probably one of the tamer comments. I get gentrified racism. I get it well. I still have plenty family back in the old country and I spent my summers growing up on their beaches and mountains.
The book was just bad. Were there tropes and caricatures? No more than other stories I assure you. Did they make some dumb, questionable marketing decision? Yeah. And the idea that she’s not ‘Spanish’ enough could really only gain traction in a world of extremes where mob rage unleashes psychotically and any perspective on the fact that real life is highly nuanced has long been thrown out the window so that the herd can stomp around in their black and white gardens.
Truth is someone else needs to write to this topic and it really doesn’t matter if this person has purple hair, three eyes, and watched it all play out from the planet Nibiru as long as they take an honest, clear minded, elegant pass at it. It deserves better justice.
Who knows maybe that person is me?