Jeanine Cummins
Bestselling Author and Speaker

Jeanine Cummins was born on a US Naval Base in Rota, Spain, and spent most of her childhood in Gaithersburg, Maryland. When she was sixteen, Jeanine’s family experienced a horrific violent crime: the double-homicide of her two cousins by four strangers. Her brother was the only surviving victim of the attack. The crime and the impact it had on her family became the subject of her bestselling 2004 memoir A Rip in Heaven.

After that publication, Jeanine began speaking publicly about victims’ rights, and specifically about her family’s experiences with the criminal justice system. Jeanine is a death penalty opponent, and can speak to the ways death row further persecutes victims of violent crime. She has addressed college, high school, and middle school students about topics from writing to victimology, to turning trauma into art. She’s spoken to first responders about best practices when dealing with victims of violent crime and trauma. She has also visited prisons, where she speaks with inmates about using art or stories as a way to take ownership over trauma.

With the upcoming publication of American Dirt, Jeanine looks forward to the opportunity to discuss her extensive research into the origin stories of migrants and refugees who attempt to get to the US via the southern border with Mexico. During her research, Jeanine visited migrant shelters and orphanages in Mexico, met with humanitarian aid workers who provide water to migrants in the desert, interviewed lawyers who provide pro bono legal services for unaccompanied minors, and volunteered at a desayunador (soup kitchen) in Tijuana. Those experiences, among many others, were deeply influential in helping Jeanine understand why Mexican and Central American migrants are willing to undertake such a perilous journey, crossing Mexico atop the treacherous freight trains known as La Bestia, all in the hopes of reaching a hostile and closed foreign border.

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Flatiron Books

Already being hailed as "a Grapes of Wrath for our times" and "a new American classic," American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.

Penguin Random House

A deeply moving story of two mothers from two very different times.

Penguin Random House

A poignant, coming of age novel about an Irish gypsy boy’s childhood in the 1950s.

A Rip in HeavenA Memoir of Murder and Its Aftermath
Penguin Random House

A Rip in Heaven is Jeanine Cummins’ story of a night in April, 1991, when her two cousins Julie and Robin Kerry, and her brother, Tom, were assaulted on the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, which spans the Mississippi River just outside of St. Louis.

American Dirt American Dirt is a novel about migration in the Americas. Cummins can speak about her extensive research throughout both sides of the borderlands and the real conditions on the ground that migrants are facing, and speak to why they are undertaking such a perilous journey to an unwelcoming country.
A Rip in Heaven: A Memoir of Murder and Its Aftermath Cummins can speak to victims’ rights, and tell the story of her family’s horrific encounter first with violent crime and homicide, and then with the criminal justice system.

Entertainment Weekly published an excerpt from American Dirt.

The Hollywood Reporter wrote about the American Dirt movie deal.

Jeanine wrote an opinion piece on the migrant children crisis for The New York Times.

Listen to Jeanine read an excerpt from The Crooked Branch on NPR’s The Story.

Listen to Jeanine be interviewed about The Crooked Branch on The Marc Steiner Show.

Follow Jeanine on Instagram and Twitter, like her page on Facebook and check out her personal website.

The class experience was enhanced when the author herself came to speak about her book, the criminal justice system, and how to improve the survivors’ interaction with the system. In this day and age of social media distractions my students were focused on every word Jeanine said. I could not ask for a better presentation on such a difficult and personal topic. Jeanine expanded the knowledge base of my students in such a personal and powerful way. I will be forever grateful.
—Kevin Barrett, PhD, Rockland Community College

"Jeanine Cummins' talk was inspiring for students, faculty, and community members alike. We were all mesmerized by her storytelling and the engaging--and personable--way in which she talked about her writing and research process. One of the best visiting writers we've had in years!"
—Mary McMyne, Lake Superior State University

Advance praise for American Dirt “Time to sink into American Dirt.”
Entertainment Weekly

American Dirt is an extraordinary piece of work, a perfect balancing act with terror on one side and love on the other. I defy anyone to read the first seven pages of this book and not finish it. The prose is immaculate, and the story never lets up. This book will be an important voice in the discussion about immigration and los migrantes; it certainly puts the lie to the idea that we are being besieged by ‘bad hombres.’ On a micro scale—the story scale, where I like to live—it’s one hell of a novel about a good woman on the run with her beautiful boy. It’s marvelous.”
—Stephen King

“From its heart-stopping first sentence to its heart-shattering last, Cummins’s story of immigrants is just what we need now. Gritty yet sensitive, realistic yet hopeful, grand and granular, American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins is a Grapes of Wrath for our times.”
—Don Winslow, author of the New York Times bestseller The Border

American Dirt is an urgent, blistering, unforgettable book. In her portrayal of Lydia and Luca, a mother and son forced to leave their Mexican home, Jeanine Cummins has given face to migrants everywhere who flee violence and near-certain death in search of only one thing: a chance at life. Beautifully written, thrilling in its propulsive force, American Dirt is a new American classic.”
—Tara Conklin, author of the New York Times bestseller The Last Romantics

“The story of the migrant is the story of our times, and Jeanine Cummins is a worthy chronicler. At once intimate and epic, American Dirt is an exhilarating and beautiful book about parental love and human hope.”
—Rumaan Alam, author of That Kind of Mother and Rich and Pretty

“Urgent and unforgettable, American Dirt leaps the borders of the page and demands attention, especially now.”
—Sarah Blake, author of the New York Times bestseller The Postmistress and The Guest Book