Solito, Solita

Solito, Solita : Crossing Borders with Youth Refugees from Central America

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They are a mass migration of thousands, yet each one travels alone. Solito, Solita (Alone, Alone) is an urgent collection of oral histories that tells--in their own words--the story of young refugees fleeing countries in Central America and traveling for hundreds of miles to seek safety and protection in the United States.

Fifteen narrators describe why they fled their homes, what happened on their dangerous journeys through Mexico, how they crossed the borders, and for some, their ongoing struggles to survive in the United States. In an era of fear, xenophobia, and outright lies, these stories amplify the compelling voices of migrant youth. What can they teach us about abuse and abandonment, bravery and resilience, hypocrisy and hope? They bring us into their hearts and onto streets filled with the lure of freedom and fraught with violence. From fending off kidnappers with knives and being locked in freezing holding cells to tearful reunions with parents, Solito, Solita's narrators bring to light the experiences of young people struggling for a better life across the border.

This collection includes the story of Adri n, from Guatemala City, whose mother was shot to death before his eyes. He refused to join a gang, rode across Mexico atop cargo trains, crossed the US border as a minor, and was handcuffed and thrown into ICE detention on his eighteenth birthday. We hear the story of Rosa, a Salvadoran mother fighting to save her life as well as her daughter's after death squads threatened her family. Together they trekked through the jungles on the border between Guatemala and Mexico, where masked men assaulted them. We also meet Gabriel, who after surviving sexual abuse starting at the age of eight fled to the United States, and through study, legal support and work, is now attending UC Berkeley.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 336 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 22.86mm | 430.91g
  • Chicago, United States
  • English
  • 1608466183
  • 9781608466184
  • 1,367

Table of contents


INTRODUCTION by Steven Mayers and Jonathan Freedman



Soledad Castillo, Honduras: "Nobody wanted me."

Josue Nieves, El Salvador: "My father didn't want me to see that he was crying."

Gabriel Mendez, Honduras: "I was made to do things I didn't want to do."

Jhony Chuc, Guatemala: "You ride on top of the Beast and are totally exposed."

Noemi Tun, Guatemala: "People fought over water and land."

Isabel Vasquez, El Salvador: "Before, a village like ours was so beautiful, and suddenly things were ruined."

Danelia Silva, El Salvador: "He'd break down doors and come through the windows, or, if not, from the roof, up the fire escape."

Adrian Cruz, Guatemala: "I was solito, solito. I decided to cross by myself."

Pedro Hernandez, Guatemala: "The immigration police herded us into cars and drove us to la hielera, the freezer."

Cristhian Molina, Honduras: "For eighteen years I have wandered from the bottom to the top of North America, trying to change my life."

Rosa Cuevas, El Salvador: "We walked for days, through the jungle, risking our lives, not meeting anyone."

Ernesto Gonzalez, Honduras: "I'm the only one still alive."

Julio Zavala, Honduras: "When I slept, there were cameras on four sides."

Ismael Xol, Guatemala: "Maybe I'll be transferred to the university next year as planned, or maybe I'll be deported back to Guatemala."

Itzel Tzab, Guatemala: "Only by leaving my studies could I work to pay him back."


Ten Things You Can Do
Historical Timeline

III. Glossary


Risk Factors for Children

Violence against Women
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Review quote

"Intense testimonies that leave one shivering, astonished at the bravery of the human spirit. Mayers and Freedman have done a magnanimous job collecting these histories. America, are you listening?"

--Sandra Cisneros

"Solito, Solita gives readers the rare chance to hear directly from young migrants who have risked everything for a better life on our side of the border. With unflinching clarity, they detail the violence they left behind, the fear and difficulties they face after arrival, and the hope and resiliency that carries them through it all. They have courageously shared these experiences with the idea that people like us might read their stories and be moved to action, and we owe it to them to do so."

--Francisco Cant , author of The Line Becomes a River

"This book fills a crucial missing piece in today's immigration debate. Everyone who cares about immigration--and about migrants--should read it... The searing, heart-wrenching firsthand accounts in this book bring to life the experiences of Central Americans before they reach the United States: the tragic experiences of poverty, violence, and abuse that push individuals to flee their homes, the agonizing and perilous journeys across Mexico and Central America, and the baffling bureaucracy and abuse they find upon arriving in the United States."

--Aviva Chomsky, professor at Salem State University and author of Undocumented

"Stories of war and exile, of migrations and survival--a most pertinent collection for our times, one that puts a human face on the greatest tragedy and humanitarian crises of our generation. This collection is a must-read for politicians that demonize refugees and a call to action for everyone else."

--Alejandro Murguia, San Francisco Poet Laureate Emeritus and professor of Latina/ Latino Studies at San Francisco State University

"Immigration narratives are too often reduced to tropes, to statistics and numbers, to binary politics and manipulative rhetoric, but not so in this volume of stories. Solito, Solita reaches beyond and beneath the headlines, clearing the mess and the noise so that we can hear the voices that matter most in contemporary migration: those of young migrants themselves."

--Lauren Markham, author of Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life

"These raw voices pulse with heartbreak, resilience, hope, and even joy, shining a light on the forces that compel young people to flee their homes in the Northern Triangle in search of safety and solace in the United States. A must-read for today's immigration debate."

--Sara Campos, codirector of the New American Story Project
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About Steven Mayers

Steven Mayers is a writer, oral historian, and professor at the City College of San Francisco. He has interviewed Central American migrants for over a decade. His master's thesis explored ways in which fiction can challenge historical accounts of the past, and his dissertation, analyzing the stories of Central American war refugees, focused on the themes of identity, home, and forgiveness.

Jonathan Freedman is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author, and mentor with more than thirty years' experience reporting from Central America, Mexico, and the US border. His six-year series of investigative editorials for the San Diego Tribune was influential in the passage of the landmark 1986 US immigration reforms that authorized 2.7 million undocumented immigrants to become permanent legal residents.
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Rating details

12 ratings
4.83 out of 5 stars
5 83% (10)
4 17% (2)
3 0% (0)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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