Books for changing the world
Menu
Menu
Solito, Solita
Crossing Borders with Youth Refugees from Central America

They are a mass migration of thousands of young people from Central America, yet each one travels alone: solito, solita.

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 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. 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.

Series
Reviews

  • "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 Cantú, 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

Other books of interest

  • No One Is Illegal

    No One Is Illegal debunks the leading ideas behind the often-violent right-wing backlash against immigrants.
  • "When the Welfare People Come"

    Analyzes the history of the U.S. child welfare system and its implications today, offering ideas for reform and building solidarity.
  • Citizen Illegal

    Citizen Illegal is a revealing portrait of life as a first generation immigrant, a celebration of Chicano joy, a shout against erasure, and a vibrant re-imagining of Mexican American life.
  • Six by Ten

    A collection of intimate portraits told directly by people whose lives have been devastated by solitary confinement in America.

  • Say it Forward

    A DIY guide for social justice oral history projects.