Hello friends. This post is a collection of quotes from the book - American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. American Dirt is an unforgettable story of a mother and son's attempt to cross the US-Mexico border.
If there’s one good thing about terror, Lydia now understands, it’s that it’s more immediate than grief. She knows that she will soon have to contend with what’s happened, but for now, the possibility of what might still happen serves to anesthetize her from the worst of the anguish.
Someone once told me that the only good advice for grief is to stay hydrated. Because everything else is just chingaderas.
Lydia feels like a cracked egg, and she doesn’t know if she’s the shell or the yolk or the white. She is scrambled.
She and Luca are actual migrants. That is what they are. And that simple fact, among all the other severe new realities of her life, knocks the breath clean out of her lungs. All her life she’s pitied those poor people. She’s donated money. She’s wondered with the sort of detached fascination of the comfortable elite how dire the conditions of their lives must be wherever they come from, that this is the better option. That these people would leave their homes, their cultures, their families, even their languages, and venture into tremendous peril, risking their very lives, all for the chance to get to the dream of some faraway country that doesn’t even want them.
For all her love of words, at times they’re entirely insufficient.
It’s hard to feel inconspicuous when you’re a stranger in a small place.
This is the one thing all migrants have in common, this is the solidarity that exists among them, though they all come from different places and different circumstances, some urban, some rural, some middle-class, some poor, some well educated, some illiterate, Salvadoran, Honduran, Guatemalan, Mexican, Indian, each of them carries some story of suffering on top of that train and into el norte beyond. Some, like Rebeca, share their stories carefully, selectively, finding a faithful ear and then chanting their words like prayers. Other migrants are like blown-open grenades, telling their anguish compulsively to everyone they meet, dispensing their pain like shrapnel so they might one day wake to find their burdens have grown lighter.
There aren’t many women on La Bestia, and very few children, so Lydia feels noticed by every single man they see. She’s aware that she and her companions represent something to these men. They look like home. Or they look like salvation. Or they look like prey. To an halcón they might look like reward money.
Please, please listen. Never be complacent. Never assume you’re safe on this train. No one is safe, do you understand? No one. Machismo will get you killed.
Her body feels like cracked glass, already shattered, and held in place only by a trick of temporary gravity. One wrong move and she will come to pieces.
Lydia and Luca will travel with Soledad and Rebeca for as long as possible has not been detailed aloud, yet it’s an arrangement all four of them intuitively understand. So much has happened that each hour of this journey feels like a year, but there’s something more than that. It’s the bond of trauma, the bond of sharing an indescribable experience together. Whatever happens, no one else in their lives will ever fully comprehend the ordeal of this pilgrimage, the characters they’ve met, the fear that travels with them, the grief and fatigue that eat at them. Their collective determination to keep pressing north. It solders them together so they feel like an almost-family now.
It’s none of my business, I know. But of course it makes me curious. Sometimes money is cause for concern. Especially here. Especially when it’s a young person who has a lot of money without having a job or a rich family.
The worst will either happen or not happen, and there’s no worry that will make a difference in either direction. Don’t think.
This is a grueling journey. Two and a half nights of arduous hiking, and I am your only lifeline. If there’s any problem with that, or if you don’t think you can make it, this is your last chance to say so.
Lydia thinks about how adaptable migrants must be. They must change their minds every day, every hour. They must be stubborn about one thing only: survival.
After seventeen years of ferrying people through the desert, he’s learned to tell the good from the bad, even in difficult circumstances. He understands that once in a while, a person is not worth saving.