5 Books Like American Dirt

American Dirt is a popular #1 New York Times bestseller and Oprah Book Club pick written by American author Jeanine Cummins

5 Books Like American Dirt

Published in 2020, American Dirt quickly grew in popularity with more and more readers keen to see what all the fuss was about.

It didn’t take long for the book to sell more than 2 million copies worldwide. Offering an interesting combination of historical fiction, fiction, thriller, and political writing, this is a book that keeps the reader gripped throughout.

Surprisingly thought-provoking, American Dirt tells the story of Lydia and her family. Living in Acapulco, Lydia, her son, and her amazing journalist husband live a wonderful life.

However, cracks start to appear when the cartels start causing trouble.

The family continues to live with caution until Lydia’s husband decides to publish a tell-all profile on the cartel’s latest leader. From that day onwards, Lydia’s life will never be the same again.

Forced to run, Lydia and her family join countless other people trying to escape to the United States.

Will they make it?

If you loved reading American Dirt, you’ll also enjoy reading The Four Winds, The Last Thing He Told Me, This Tender Land, The Nightingale, and The Book of Longings. Check out this list of 5 books to read after American Dirt.

Themes In American Dirt

Themes In American Dirt


One of the main themes in American Dirt is survival. This is arguably the most important theme in the book because the whole story centers around Lydia and her family running for their lives.

Cummins has a wonderful way with words that makes the reader feel for the countless people fleeing to America.

Readers are shown how hard it is to survive, the desperation people face, and the big battles people face on a daily basis just to live a simple life.

Readers are left feeling anxious, lost, and desperate, just like Lydia and her family.


Family is also one of the most common themes you’ll find in American Dirt. Without the family aspect in the book, there’s no way the story would be as impactful.

The book portrays the importance of family, grief, and how parents would do anything to protect their children.

Of course, along with the theme of family comes pain, love, care, and protection. Readers will particularly love how Cummins presents the idea that everyone is one big family.


Another key theme in American Dirt is freedom. Throughout the story, all Lydia, her family, and the other families escaping Alcapulco want is freedom. They want to have a fair crack at life and live away from conflict, politics, and war.

This is clear to see throughout the book, with it leaving readers feeling sympathetic toward the main characters.


Finally, politics also plays a part in the American Dirt plot. The book cleverly evaluates and judges the current state of politics and how it has put so many people in danger.

What’s brilliant about Cummins’ writing is how she does this without letting politics spoil the story.

Books Like American Dirt

The Four Winds – Kristin Hannah

The Four Winds: A Novel

The first book recommendation I have for you is The Four Winds. The Four Winds is a best-selling novel written by Kristin Hannah.

It tells the story of Elsa Martinelli, who like all her neighbors, faces the difficult decision to stay and fight for the land she loves or move west to California.

Set in Texas in 1934, the book explains how millions of people have been left out of work after a drought broke the Great Plains.

Farmers desperately fight to keep their land and save their families but the dust threatens to bury them.

Elsa’s search for a better life causes great heartache, agony, and grief, leaving the reader feeling emotional. If you enjoyed the freedom themes found in American Dirt, you’ll love this book.


  • The Four Winds follows a similar story to American Dirt.
  • This book is incredibly thought-provoking.


  • The Four Winds book has almost 500 pages to read.

Themes: Family, desperation, survival, freedom, and pride.

The Last Thing He Told Me – Laura Dave

The Last Thing He Told Me: A Novel

The Last Thing He Told Me is a Reese Witherspoon Book Club and #1 New York Times bestselling mystery novel written by Laura Dave.

This captivating book has sold more than a million copies and continues to grow in popularity.

The book tells the story of a woman desperately searching for the truth that surrounds the mystery of her missing husband.

Things are anything but straightforward and all Hannah Hall has to go on is a note her husband left. Owen’s note simply reads ‘Protect Her’.

It is down to Laura to solve the mystery, protect Owen’s daughter Bailey, and finally uncover her husband’s secrets.

Readers quickly come to learn that Hannah will find the answers she seeks at any cost, but will she find Owen, or is it already too late?

Readers that enjoy solving mysteries will love this book!


  • Readers will enjoy trying to solve the mystery.
  • You’ll be kept guessing right until the very end.


  • Some readers have stated that they found the ending quite anti-climatic.

Themes: Missing persons, love, family, passion, desire, grief, and politics.

This Tender Land: A Novel – William Kruger

This Tender Land: A Novel

The next book on this list is This Tender Land: A Novel. Written by William Kruger, this hard-hitting, quite frankly heartbreaking book tells the story of four orphaned children fleeing for their lives.

Odie and his brother Albert were forcibly separated from their parents and forced into education at Lincoln Indian Training School.

Life isn’t that great for the brothers but things take a dark turn when the boys commit a horrific crime.

Along with their mute friend Mose and a brokenhearted child called Emmy, the brothers steal a canoe and flee the school in the hope they can find a better place to call home.

The story follows the four escapees on their challenging journey, on which they meet countless strugglers, poor farmers, and displaced families.

If you don’t mind shedding a tear as you read, this novel is ideal.


  • This Tender Land is beautifully written.
  • You won’t be able to put this book down.


  • This is another very long read.

Themes: Family, hardship, freedom, politics, survival, and determination.

The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale: A Novel

Another book written by Kristin Hannah that you will enjoy if you like American Dirt is the Nightingale.

This is also a great read for readers that prefer to read historical fiction. With a heavy focus on politics, this book is set in France in 1939.

After saying goodbye to her husband Antoine, Vianne Mauriac lives with her daughter in the quiet village of Carriveau. She didn’t for one second think the Nazis would attack France but her life is thrown into peril when they do.

It isn’t long before a German captain storms Vianne’s home, well and truly turning her life upside down. To survive, Vianne and her daughter must live with the enemy or prepare to lose everything.

With her life at stake, Vianne must make the hardest decisions she’ll ever have to make to survive.


  • This book is perfect for readers that enjoy historically accurate stories.
  • Readers are left feeling as if they are on Vianne’s journey with her.


  • This book is very political.

Themes: Family, survival, freedom, politics, love, and protection.

The Book Of Longings – Sue Monk Kidd

The Book of Longings: A Novel

The final book I have for you is the Book of Longings.

Written by Sue Monk Kidd, this is a historical fiction book that tells the sad but very real story of a woman that struggles to unleash her full potential in a world that tries its best to silence her.

Heavily researched and written with a reverential approach to Jesus’s life, this book is all about humanity, freedom, equality, and struggle.

This unforgettable and inspiring story sees Ana make live with Jesus, his brother, and their mother.

Ana’s desire to break free from the Roman chains soon brings danger to her door, resulting in her having to flee Nazareth. It is only in Alexandria that she eventually starts to come to terms with who she is.


  • This is a very real story.
  • The links to real history are marvelous.


  • Some readers might find the religious aspects of this story a bit too much.

Themes: Loss, history, religion, politics, family, freedom, and desire.

Final Thoughts

American Dirt is a one-of-a-kind book that tells an amazing, yet heartbreaking story.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other books out there that offer similar themes. In this post, I’ve presented you with 5 books you should read after reading American Dirt.

If you enjoyed American Dirt, there’s no doubt in my mind that you will enjoy these books too. They all feature strong themes of family, freedom, politics, and survival just like Jeanine Cummin’s best-selling book.

Now you have this list at your fingertips, you should take some time to decide which book you want to read first. I’m sure you’ll enjoy whichever one you choose.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is There An American Dirt Film?

No, there isn’t an American Dirt film. However, Jeanine Cummins does have an Apple TV documentary where she sits down and discusses the novel with Oprah.

Will There Be An American Dirt TV Show Or Film?

Whilst nothing has yet been confirmed, it is widely believed that American Dirt will be made into a feature film in the future.

Why Does The American Dirt Book Cover Have Birds On It?

The American Dirt book cover has birds on it because they represent flight and freedom.

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Anna Davis