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InstaReview: Solito by Javier Zamora

"Trip. My parents started used that word a year ago - 'one day you'll take a trip to be with us. Like an adventure.'"

Javier Zamora’s memoir, Solito, depicts his perilous journey as a nine year old from his home country of El Salvador to the United States. Javier’s parents already made the journey and are living stateside, desperate to have their son with them. Don Dago, the local coyote (a term used for those who smuggle individuals across the Texas-Mexican border), says he cannot bring Javier until he is older. Javier patiently waits for his opportunity - to have “an adventure” as his parents keep referring to it - until that day comes in April 1999. His journey is anticipated to take two weeks and his grandpa helps him memorize every city that he will have to stop at along the way, but ultimately he is left in the hands of strangers and hopes he makes it alive. This memoir is heart breaking and gives the reader a visceral experience of what happens when a two-week journey is derailed by dishonest coyotes and morphs into seven long weeks of treacherous migration over ocean, along pavement, and through desert. Javier discloses in his afterward and acknowledgements, that this memoir was only possible through the difficult work he did in therapy, to process the trauma of his journey and recover the memories long hidden away. While there is a child-like innocence in the writing style, staying true to his experience as a boy, you can feel the emotional, cathartic release in the way he writes. This was a stunning memoir and we highly recommend it.


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