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  • Writer's pictureMandy McHugh

The Book of Rosy, Rosayra Pablo Cruz: A Review

Updated: Jun 11, 2020

I was looking for a nonfiction read and came across this title in the new releases on Libby. Having little outside perspective of what it's like to immigrate across the border, I decided to give this one a try.

Rosayra Pablo Cruz makes the heartbreaking decision to flee her home in Guatemala, spending thousands of dollar on a dangerous, difficult, life-threatening journey for herself and two of her children to cross the border into the US. What follows is a recollection told in three parts about the events leading up to her choice, her stay in the detention center, the woman who started a grassroots movement to save mothers in these centers, and Rosy's life once she's released.

This story is as riveting as it is painful and beautiful. Rosayra paints a horrifying portrait of her life in Guatemala, highlighting cultural differences in everything from mercantilism, funeral practices, everyday routines, and family dynamics. She stresses how perilous life can be, how even trying to make a living can be a dangerous, cut-throat battle. In this, she doesn't make excuses or shy away from the judgment she might receive by telling her story. Acutely aware of the condemnation many face by leaving their country, and in Rosy's case, her two daughters and aging mother, she's determined to shed light on the conditions in both the centers and her country.

One of the things I appreciated about this book was that it didn't read as "trauma porn." We're exposed to conditions without having them be described in agonizing details for the sake of seeing the horrors from afar. We get choice details that paint a stark portrait without using the violence to create an us vs. them dichotomy which is so often the case with narratives in this genre. Memoirs are tricky, and sometimes it feels like key details have been left out to dramatize the story; and while I did wish there was more correlation between events at a few points, Rosy's voice is strong and brutal.

I'd highly recommend this to anyone interested in current affairs, social justice, memoirs about overcoming hardship, or anyone who's motivated to make a difference.


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