SOLITO, SOLITA: CROSSING BORDERS WITH YOUTH REFUGEES FROM CENTRAL AMERICA
Edited by Steven Mayers and Jonathan Freedman
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.
Read an adaptive narrative from the book in The New York Times.
ADRIÁN, 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.
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.
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.
SOLEDAD, a young woman from Honduras who fled at age 14 after being abused by her stepfather, abandoned by her mother, and forced into child labor.
ABOUT THE EDITORS:
Steven Mayers is a writer, oral historian, and professor of English at the City College of San Francisco.
Jonathan Freedman is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, author, and writing mentor at the City College of San Francisco.