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Jeanine Cummins Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Outside Boy (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Crooked Branch (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
American Dirt (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

A Rip in Heaven (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon

Jeanine Cummins is an American historical fiction author from New York. She was born on an American Naval base in Rota, Spain though she spent much of her childhood in Gaithersburg in Maryland. As a sixteen-year-old teenager, she experienced one of most horrifying crimes as four strangers killed two of her cousins. She went on to write her bestselling memoir “A Rip in Heaven” in 2004. After her memoir was published, Cummins became a public speaker on victims’ rights, particularly focusing on the family’s experiences dealing with the criminal justice system. She has talked to high school, middle school and college students on subjects as diverse as turning trauma into art, victimology, and writing. She has also spoken about best practices when dealing with victims of trauma and violent crime. Jeanine has also been a speaker in prison where she encouraged inmates to use stories or art to take control of their trauma. She published her first fiction novel “The Outside Boy” in 2010 followed by “The Crooked Branch” in 2013. Her biggest break was the publication of “American Dirt” a novel that she reportedly sold for seven figures in a nine-way auction. The novel is about an immigrant family and their journey to the US via the Mexican border.

Cummins always dreamt of becoming an author and wrote her first story by the time she was seven years old. The novel was a seventy-five-page work that told a story about a girl that goes skateboarding across the US. Jeanine did all kinds of story contests and poetry as a teenager though she never won anything and did not even get to publish until she got her story in the college literary magazine as a teenager. Jeanine has said that given her experiences in childhood and as a teenager, she never thought she would ever make a living as a professional author. Moreover, her father was a Navy man and her mother a nurse. Even her grandfather who was a professional musician felt like someone with a job since he carried a bass and tuba around. To the young Jeanine, these felt like tools and she believed that just like her family, she would end up in a more practical career. Jeanine thought that she would become some carpenter or park ranger that from time to time submitted her poetry to local newspaper contests and nothing more. However the death of her cousin Julie who always wanted to become a professional author changed her mind. Cummins was determined to live out the dream of her cousin who she believed had the talent to become an author. She felt that in some way, her cousin had left the torch to her and she determined that she was going to become a professional author.

Jeanine Cummins’s first fiction novel “Outside Boy” is a coming to age narrative that is simmering with inner conflict. Set in 1950 Ireland, it tells the story of a gypsy boy who lost his mother and is now struggling to discover himself in a change changing too rapidly. The story is told by a twelve-year-old Irish Gypsy boy named Christopher, who lives with other travelers that are mistreated by townsfolk. Cummins provides an argument for the sympathetic treatment of minorities in society, even as they enjoy their campfire songs, painted wagons and merry bands in addition to their unique Pavee culture. In her novel “The Crooked Branch” set in modern-day Queens, the lead is young woman struggling to find identity after she gets her first child. Cummins alternates the chapters of the novel with the story of another woman that is also fighting to provide for her family in Ireland during a time of drought and famine. The novel showcases the exhilaration and trauma of motherhood from two very different perspectives. In “American Dirt” Cummins paints the horror of the ordeal that migrants have to go through including theft, violence, and kidnapping. She suffuses her characters with humanity as she showcases the pain of destroyed innocence and a mother’s determination to protect her child. With her complex characterization and stirring descriptions, she forces her readers to see the struggles of the immigrants as people rather than just another security threat.

“The Outside Boy” is a novel set in the middle of the 20th century and is the story of a twelve-year-old gypsy named Christopher or “Christy”. He is part of the traveler band of gypsies that are derogatorily referred to as tinkers or travelers by the townsfolk who discriminate against them as they are deemed, homeless dirty people. As a Pavee he has had to experience the townsfolk closing down their businesses and retaliating against the gypsies in school. At the opening of the novel, Christopher the gypsy boy just lost his grandfather that had been very close to him. In discussing the death, Cummins introduces the culture of the traveler or Pavee Gypsy. Christy and Martin his cousin know that the deceased should be taken care in a given way and hence they stand up to their family when it tries to do things differently. In another storyline Christy investigates the death of his mother who she has been told died giving birth to him. But an auspicious revelation makes him believe that what he had believed for so long might not be the entire truth concerning her death.

Jeanine Cummins’s “The Crooked Branch” is a story of perseverance, motherhood, destiny, and family. The lead is a new mother known as Majella who is finding out that mothering is hard, which leaves her crying all the time and thinking that she is going crazy. She gets even more distraught when she discovers the diary of a long lost family member that claims to have been a killer. Majella is convinced that it is her destiny to fail her child, a thought that keeps gnawing on her soul. She goes into therapy and with the help of a doting husband she gets a little better. But the problem is she never got rid of the diary and the more she reads it, the more she loses her mind. She is determined to find out the whole truth about her relative and decides to set out on a journey to determine what happened to the relative she believes is beckoning to her. Alternating with Majella’s story is the story of Ginny a mother of six who lives in an Ireland ravaged by famine. Just like her counterpart, she believes that she has failed her children. When the specter of starvation looms over her head she is driven to do the extreme. The two stories are beautifully woven together to show maternal doubt, panic and the determination of a mother’s to protect their child.

Jeanine Cummins’s critically acclaimed novel “American Dirt” is a novel about Lydia Quixano Perez from Acapulco in Mexico. She is married to a journalist, has a son named Luca and runs a bookstore. The city of Acapulco has been experiencing the rise of drug crime but life is still fairly comfortable for Lydia and her family. Lydia stocks most of her favorite novels in the bookstore even though she is smart enough to know some of them will never sell. But one day, a man comes in, browses the shelves and presents two of her favorite novels at the counter. The man is a charming and erudite man though underneath all the charm he is also the brand new chief of the shiny cartel that has violently taken over Acapulco. Their lives are changed forever when the cartel kills her husband after he publishes a tell-all profile of the criminal boss. Lydia is forced to flee town and their comfortable middle-class lives and become a refugee. They join a migrant train headed north to the US, which they believe is the only place she and her son will find safety. The novel tells the heart-wrenching story of the migrants on their way north to find refuge from some of the most callous criminals that have made them run away from their home.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Jeanine Cummins

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