Mary Ann Key Book Club: First Reflections on "Solito"

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April 3, 2023

Reflections from Myron Medcalf

Portrait of Myron Medcalf

He’s just a boy. 

That’s what I continue to think as I read Javier Zamora’s “Solito.” He is not an adult or a young adult or even a teenager, not that age will assuage the difficulties of the immigration experience for those who embark on it. 

But he is just a child. One day, he is laughing with his friends. He is playing with action figures. And the next day, he begins this journey from El Salvador through Guatemala and Mexico with the hope that he will see his mother and father in the United States. He longs for the reunion with his mother but he is also leaving a cherished life behind.

On Page 38, he meets with his friends before he is ready to leave. They do not know about his trek. He even tells himself that he will return. But the truth is he is moving on to a permanent chapter in his life that is difficult to convey. He doesn’t quite understand it all and those who love him do what anyone would try to do to protect a child: they try to prepare him for a positive outcome, knowing the challenges he may encounter. 

“To Freddy, who never wants to play cops and robbers, I give a Robin action figure from the Batman Forever series,” Zamora says. “His cape is missing. None of them suspect anything. If they do, they don’t say much. I feel like James Bond again, hiding information. They leave and I say goodbye, like any other day.” 

The “like any other day” was a jarring way to showcase this journey for Zamora. 

And it’s an experience so many others have endured. 

In this journey toward something better, whatever that means, and safer and more fortuitous and more fruitful and more liberating, people who come to this country the way Zamora came to this country, never arrive whole. There is always something left behind. A person. A community. A favorite shop or place of worship. A friend. And, sometimes, maybe an action figure. 

I look forward to continuing to explore this wonderful book with you all. 


Discussion question

How might the story in “Solito” be different if written from an adult’s perspective? Would it be as effective or impactful?

Share your reflections and feedback with us at


Events in English

Mary Ann Key Book Club – A Community Discussion of “Solito”

Thursday, May 18, 7 p.m.

Join columnist Myron Medcalf and Latino/Latinx community leaders in an online conversation. Panelists will discuss “Solito: A Memoir” by Javier Zamora and how themes from the book are reflected in our community, writing as healing, and action steps for a more equitable future. Media partner: Star Tribune. Sponsor: Friends of the Hennepin County Library.

Registration is required.


Mary Ann Key Book Club – A Conversation With Javier Zamora

Tuesday, May 23, 6:30 p.m at Minneapolis Central Library, Pohlad Hall

Join the Mary Ann Key Book Club for an exclusive evening featuring Javier Zamora, award-winning author of “Solito.” The author will be joined in conversation by Star Tribune columnist and book club partner Myron Medcalf. The conversation will conclude with a Q&A session with participants and a book signing with the author. Media partner: Star Tribune. Sponsor: Friends of the Hennepin County Library.

Register to attend in-person.

(This event will also be livestreamed and recorded. Register to attend online.)


Eventos en Español

Discusión del Club de Lectura Mary Ann Key - Solito

Jueves 27 de Abril

Jueves 25 de Mayo

6-7 p.m.

Pequeño grupo de discusión virtual comunitario alrededor del libro "Solito" de Javier Zamora (emociones, pensamientos, conexiones, preguntas, etc.) Las preguntas para la conversación se enviarán a su correo electrónico una semana antes del evento. Patrocinador: Friends of the Hennepin County Library.

Regístrese aquí:


Mary Ann Key Book Club – Una Discusión Comunitaria del Libro "Solito"

Jueves 22 de Junio, 6-7 p.m.

Evento de panelistas con organizadores/ activistas comunitarios que van a platicar sobre el libro “Solito” y cómo se conectaron personalmente con la historia de Javier Zamora. Este evento sera en Español. Patrocinador: Friends of the Hennepin County Library.

Este programa sera por Zoom. Regístrese aquí:


Resources for reading, listening, and learning

  • Immigrantly Podcast: Immigrantly (formerly The Alien Chronicles) is a minority women-owned and run weekly podcast that features immigrants from all walks of life to share their immigrant experiences.

  • Minnesota State CAREERwise: Cultural services for immigrants and refugees. Minnesota provides many resources to help newcomers to America adjust to life here.


Can't miss upcoming Library events

Virtual Citizenship Workshops

Tuesdays and Thursdays, April 4-June 29

1-2:30 p.m.

Drop in to our online study sessions to practice for your citizenship interview. Work in small groups or individually with a volunteer from Literacy Minnesota. Study English vocabulary, reading, writing and civics. Collaborator: Literacy Minnesota.


Club Book With Oscar Hokeah

Monday, April 10, 7-8 p.m.

Join the live event via

Join Mona Susan Power (enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation) in conversation with Oscar Hokeah (citizen of the Cherokee Nation and the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma), acclaimed author of Calling For a Blanket Dance. Collaborator: MELSA (Metropolitan Library Service Agency). Funded by Minnesota's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.


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