American Dirt
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1. Before Lydia and Luca set out on their journey, she is a middle-class woman living an almost perfect life for herself, running her own bookshop in Acapulco. How did this affect the way you related to Lydia’s character? Did this make for a different reading experience than if Jeanine had told the story from a different point of view?

2. What did Lydia’s friendship with Javier add to your experience of reading the novel? Did you guess his real identity? Were you surprised by this?

3. Sebastián persists in running his story on Javier even though he knows it will put himself, and his family, in danger. How did you feel about this decision?

4. What did the character of Meredith bring to the novel? Could you empathize with her reservations about helping Lydia and Luca?

5. Were you surprised to encounter Rebeca and Soledad, fending for themselves on La Bestia? What did their story add to the novel?

6. At the Casa del Migrante, the priest warns Lydia, Luca, Rebeca and Soledad to turn back ‘If it’s only a better life you seek, seek it elsewhere… This path is only for people who have no choice, no other option, only violence and misery behind you?’ Did this dire warning surprise you, from a religious man?

7. Were you surprised by Marisol’s story, and her motivation for crossing the border?

8. The term ‘American’ actually only appears once in the whole novel. Did you notice. Why do you think the author made this choice?

9. When Luca crosses over to the United States, he’s disappointed. ‘The road below is nothing like the roads Luca imagined he’d encounter in the USA… this road is like the crappiest Mexican road he’s ever seen. Dirt, dirt and more dirt’. Why do you think the author entitled this book American Dirt?

10. How did the ending of the book make you feel? Are you inclined to judge Lydia, or to sympathize with her?

* Some questions from The Reading Agency.

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