cover image Solito: A Memoir

Solito: A Memoir

Javier Zamora. Hogarth, $28.00 (400p) ISBN 978-0-593-49806-4

Poet Zamora (Unaccompanied) presents an immensely moving story of desperation and hardship in this account of his childhood migration from El Salvador to the U.S. To reunite with his parents—who left during the Salvadoran Civil War—nine-year-old Zamora was forced to rely on the help of coyotes to get to America in 1999. But, as he relates in affecting detail, the voyage for his group was perilous and trust was a rare commodity. What was supposed to be an easy two-week trip became a two-month nightmare pocked with seedy characters, days spent locked in various hideouts before moving, and a never-ending stream of promises shattered. Between dangerous marches through the desert and being caught at the U.S. border multiple times, Zamora’s group was forced to depend on one another for survival. The surrogate family they formed offered Zamora respite from the despair, and he transforms the experience into a stirring portrait of the power of human connection. Rendering the end of their journey in a final heartbreaking scene, Zamora writes, “I can feel my heart in my stomach... I close my eyes and take a long sniff. Their sweat, the smell of loroco and masa, is faint, but it’s them.” This sheds an urgent and compassionate light on the human lives caught in an ongoing humanitarian crisis. (Sept.)