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Reading Groups

University Libraries book discussion series schedules, discussion questions, and additional resources.

Solito: A Memoir by Javier Zamora

Dates: September 5, 12 and 19 (Tuesdays)

Time: 530pm-7pm

Location: TTU Urban Tech
1120 Main St., Ste 206, Lubbock, TX 79401
Google map:

Books will be available free for the first 10 participants who register AND attend the face-to-face reading group on the title.

Signup to attend via this form.

Questions? Contact Josh Salmans, for more information


This reading group series is sponsored jointly by the Humanities Center at Texas Tech, Urban Tech and the University Libraries.

Books cover of "solito". Title is Solito in black lettering at the top of the book cover. Above that is "Magnificent' Dave Eggars. In the center of the cover is an outline of a boy with a backback, side facing. Within the outline of the boy is the nighttime desert landscape. Cover is beige.

New York Times Bestseller • Read With Jenna Book Club Pick as seen on Today • Winner of the Los Angeles Times Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiography • Winner of the American Library Association Alex Award

A young poet tells the inspiring story of his migration from El Salvador to the United States at the age of nine in this “gripping memoir” (NPR) of bravery, hope, and finding family.

Finalist for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction • One of the New York Public Library’s Ten Best Books of the Year

Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence and the PEN/Open Book Award

I read Solito with my heart in my throat and did not burst into tears until the last sentence. What a person, what a writer, what a book.—Emma Straub

“A riveting tale of perseverance and the lengths humans will go to help each other in times of struggle.”—Dave Eggers

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times Book Review, NPR, The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Vulture, She Reads, Kirkus Reviews

Trip. 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. (
Here is the link we talked about for possible translations for the Spanish/ El Salvadoran words Zamora uses through the book. It is a free viewable Google sheet.

Photo of Lucinda HoltAt our September 12 discussion, we will be hosting Lucinda Holt, Born and raised in West Texas, Lucinda Holt currently serves as an assistant professor of practice in the College of Media & Communication and the assistant director for the Thomas Jay Harris Institute for Hispanic and International Communication (HIHIC). During this time, Holt has served as a faculty advisor for the award-winning online student publication The Hub@TTU – an outlet she worked for when receiving the SPJ Mark of Excellence award for Region 8 in 2015. Holt is also the proud recipient of the 2023 Crime Victim Coalition of West Texas Advocacy award, featured in the 2023 Texas Tech’s Women Making History campaign and named a Phenomenal Woman of Texas Tech in 2022. Holt is also the lead on a grant received through the Knight Foundation–work she featured during invited presentations at Harvard University and the 2023 International Association for Media & Communication Research in Lyon, France. With a passion for journalism, Holt currently serves as a freelance reporter, providing coverage for The New York Times, and has also won awards during her time as a reporter with the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. As an assistant director for HIHIC, Holt organized the Institute’s first art contest, Orgullo y Poder, to help honor HSI initiatives and provide winners with scholarship money. Most importantly, Holt is dedicated to serving her community and enjoys mentoring students and spending time with her family and rescue animals.

About the Author

Javier Zamora reading aloudJavier Zamora (born 1990) is a Salvadoran poet and writer. Once reunited with his parents in California, he earned a BA at UC Berkley and a MFA from New York University. Zamora's chapbook Nueve Años Inmigrantes/Nine Immigrant Years won the 2011 Organic Weapon Arts Contest, and his first poetry collection, Unaccompanied, was published in 2017 by Copper Canyon Press. His poetry can be found in American Poetry Review, Best New Poets 2013, Kenyon Review, Narrative Magazine, The New Republic, The New York Times, Ploughshares, and Poetry.

Zamora's honors include Barnes & Noble Writer for Writer's Award (2016), Meridian Editors’ Prize, and the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. Zamora has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, CantoMundo, Colgate University, The Frost Place, MacDowell Colony, The Macondo Writers Workshop, the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, the National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship in Creative Writing, and Yaddo. In 2017, Zamora was awarded the Narrative Prize for "Sonoran Song," "To the President-Elect," and "Thoughts on the Anniversary of My Crossing the Sonoran Desert".

Zamora was a founder, with poets Marcelo Hernandez Castillo and Christopher Soto (AKA Loma), of the Undocupoets campaign which eliminated citizenship requirements from major first poetry book prizes in the United States. (

Interviews with the Author

Reviews of the book

Reading Questions

Borrowed from Today's article:


  1. “Trip. My parents started using that word about a year ago—‘one day, you’ll take a trip to be with us. Like an adventure.’” The result is a harrowing migration story, a narrative that is immediate and intimate, in which the reader is essentially there, in the boy’s shoes and inside his head. What did you learn through Javier Zamora’s experience? What surprised or shocked you?

  2. This memoir is told from the perspective of the author as a nine-year-old boy. How do you think that adds to the narrative? Would the book have a different effect if it was the story of an adult’s journey?

  3. From Don Dago to others who remain unnamed, Javier relies on a network of coyotes to get him to America. What was your initial opinion on these coyotes? Did it change over the course of the memoir?

  4. There are many legs to this journey: boat, bus, on foot. Describe the ways each leg was uniquely challenging and dangerous.

  5. The journey wasn’t just physically taxing, but mentally, too. Discuss all that Javier—as a young child—has to memorize throughout the ordeal, from Mexican cities to political facts. Why might he have to pretend he is Mexican?

  6. Aside from Javier, which characters stayed with you, and why?

  7. The author is a poet. How do you think this serves the story he tells, and how does it affect the interplay between intense circumstances and beautiful images and writing?

  8. The natural world is a character itself in Solito — the animals, the plants, the landscape, the full moon, the sunrise — particularly in the scenes in the desert. Which natural elements stood out for you, and why?
  9. How do you think Javier survived during the seven-week journey? How did you think he sustained himself mentally and emotionally?

  10. How does Javier change throughout the book?

  11. Solito is set in 1999, 23 years ago — and yet we still need immigration reform. Name three ways you think the American immigration system can be more efficient and humane. Can the existing system even be changed?

  12. Javier’s story is also the story of millions who have had no choice but to leave home. Have you or someone you’ve known faced similar circumstances? If so, how has this shaped your life or theirs?

  13. How much did you know about America’s immigration system before reading Solito? Did your view of the issue change? Why or why not?

  14. Toward the beginning of the memoir, Javier lists all the ways he and his mother tried to immigrate legally. Discuss how these attempts are thwarted.

  15. What could you or your neighbors do to welcome immigrant families into your community?

  16. How did you feel at the end of "Solito"?

From our Discussions