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Nonfiction Review: Solito by Javier Zamora

Title: Solito

Author: Javier Zamora
Year published: 2023
Category: Adult fiction (romance)
Pages: 400 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location: (my 2023 Google Reading map)USA (AZ), Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador

SummaryTrip. My parents started using that word about a year ago—“one day, you’ll take a trip to be with us. Like an adventure.”  

Javier Zamora’s adventure is a three-thousand-mile journey from his small town in El Salvador, through Guatemala and Mexico, and across the U.S. border. He will leave behind his beloved aunt and grandparents to reunite with a mother who left four years ago and a father he barely remembers. Traveling alone amid a group of strangers and a “coyote” hired to lead them to safety, Javier expects his trip to last two short weeks.
At nine years old, all Javier can imagine is rushing into his parents’ arms, snuggling in bed between them, and living under the same roof again. He cannot foresee the perilous boat trips, relentless desert treks, pointed guns, arrests and deceptions that await him; nor can he know that those two weeks will expand into two life-altering months alongside fellow migrants who will come to encircle him like an unexpected family.
A memoir as gripping as it is moving, Solito provides an immediate and intimate account not only of a treacherous and near-impossible journey, but also of the miraculous kindness and love delivered at the most unexpected moments. Solito is Javier Zamora’s story, but it’s also the story of millions of others who had no choice but to leave home.

Review: This is such a great read. Zamora writes well, tells a good story, and pulls the reader in from the first page. 

The one thing I wish Zamora had done was to better explain why he left El Salvador. His parents are already in the US so that is one obvious reason, but I think it would be good for readers to see the concrete reasons that individual need to leave their homeland. It is not a decision that is taken lightly, the journey is arduous, and chances aren't great that they make it. Knowing the motivation in a concrete manner would be good.

Other than that, I loved this book. Zamora tells the story from his nine-year-old perspective, which is effective. We see how important the others in his group are for helping him survive. They created a family, formed relationships that are vital for all of them, and he learns from his fellow travelers.

The details in this book really show the ins and outs of the journey, those involved along the way, and how scary it all is. I highly recommend this book.

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • Alphabet (author)--Z
  • Big Summer Book--400 pages
  • Literary Escapes--El Salvador, Guatemala
  • Nonfiction--Relationships

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