BOOK REVIEW/WOC MARCH: The Book of Rosy by Rosarya Pablo Cruz and Julie Schwietert Collazo

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For Women’s History Month, I am challenging myself to spend the whole month reading books by women of colour. I will be reviewing the books I particularly enjoyed and will hopefully highlight some picks that myself and other reviewers may have missed!

3/5 stars

I feel a bit harsh giving a memoir this low a rating–how can you give someone’s life a star rating out of 5? Quite frankly, the actual memoir portions of this book are 5-star reads. It’s the content around it that took it down a few notches for me.

Rosarya Pablo Cruz is a Guatemalan woman who entered the US in 2018 and suffered one of the most brutal effects of Trump’s rhetoric on immigrants–she was detained at the border and her two sons were separated from her, eventually landing in foster care in New York City while she remained in detention in Arizona. She tells the story of her decision to leave Guatemala, affected by economic downturns and unspeakable violence against herself and her family. Her story of travelling to the United States and her resilence is nothing short of inspiring, and had the book only focused on her story, it would have been perfect.

The problem is that halfway through, the book pivots to the perspective of Jill Schwietert Collazo, a campaigner with Immigrant Families Together telling the story of how she came to create the organisation with assistance from various pro bono lawyers and activists around New York. This is important context and the work IFT does is obviously commendable, but it grinds Rosy’s story to a screeching halt. There are whiffs of white-savior narratives here too, and while this was published before the 2020 election, there is really no discourse about how the US immigration policy has often been cruel to Latinx migrants regardless of who is president, and how family separations haven’t quite stopped yet. I couldn’t help but think of all the people IFT couldn’t help, or how they unfortunately had to take advantage of the fact that Americans would be far more sympathetic to the plights of women and children I wish there had been more here to discuss the history of discrimination against Latinx immigrants especially in the United States beyond the Trump stuff.

If you are interested in learning more about immigration policy, this book is a good start, but it certainly isn’t the be-all, end-all.

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