The Stillwater Public Library and OSU Professor Sarah Foss have partnered to offer a new community book discussion that reads and discusses different cultures and social issues of the Americas. On Tuesday, April 18, from 5:30-7 p.m., community members are invited to discuss Javier Zamora’s best-selling book “Solito: A Memoir.” Zamora, a Salvadoran American, details his experiences migrating to the U.S. as a 9-year-old, capturing the challenges in the journey along with the friendships he formed along the way.
Foss, who teaches classes on Latin American history and migration at OSU, thinks the book is an excellent way to start conversations about migration and Latin American communities in the U.S.
“Zamora journeyed to the U.S. in 1999. Now, nearly twenty-five years later, Central Americans and unaccompanied minors from the region continue to migrate to the U.S. in record numbers,” Foss said. “It’s a complex issue on a lot of levels, and I hope that reading and discussing this book can help to humanize the topic and help us learn about Central American migration.”
Zamora’s journey started in El Salvador, and traveled in a variety of ways across Guatemala, through Mexico, and eventually to Arizona before reuniting with his parents who had fled El Salvador’s political violence a few years earlier.
“It’s rare to have an account of migration written from a child’s perspective,” Foss said. “Yet in revisiting that journey and reflecting on it from the viewpoint of a 9-year-old, Zamora provides us with a powerful account of his journey—its moments of hardships, joys, and challenges. It helps remind us that the statistics we see, or the news headlines we read, are all tied to individuals with their own unique stories like Zamora’s.”
A limited number of copies of the book are available to borrow from the Adult Help Desk at the Stillwater Public Library. Attendees will have the opportunity to discuss the book, learn about the history of Central America through conversation and think about how memoirs can provide personalized accounts of larger social issues.
Additionally, participants are encouraged to bring a prepared dish from a region featured in the book to share with the group.
Emily States, adult services librarian, finds that eating with others is a meaningful way to come together and start conversations.
“There’s something about sharing a meal that immediately helps us feel a kinship with others,” States said. “Food can tell us so much – it’s necessary for basic survival of course, but it also gives insight into our identity and culture.”
The library has a variety of cookbooks available featuring the regions that Zamora traveled through. A list of titles, as well as a registration form, can be found at library.stillwater.org/register.php. Signing-up is required to hold a copy of “Solito,” however, once copies are all taken, individuals can still attend if they are willing to provide their own copy of the book.
Foss and States hope that the group can grow into a club that meets regularly to discuss books focusing on similar topics.
“We are starting off with a book that we’re both really excited about,” States said. “If there’s interest, we’ll discuss options for future books and meeting options on April 18.”
This event is co-sponsored by the Stillwater Public Library, the OSU College of Arts & Sciences Community Engagement Grant program, OSU American Studies and the Friends of the Stillwater Public Library.
The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. Library hours are Monday- Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.