Discussion Questions - OCOB 2023

Discussion Questions for Solito by Javier Zamora

The following questions are meant to serve as an opening to meaningful conversation about Solito.  Some have been adapted from questions found in Penguin’s Teacher’s Guide and in Today’s book discussion questions. Feel free to use the questions that feel most pertinent to your book group as you delve into this gripping memoir. 

From the very beginning of this memoir, which is called “Solito”, meaning alone, words seem to take on different meanings from what we usually think or encounter.  For instance, Javier’s mother calls his upcoming journey to the USA, a “trip” and an “adventure.” 

1)Think about these words and how their meaning changes as you read. How did the book upend your definition of the following: 

      a) Boat ride

      b) Bus stop

      c) Walk

      d) Coyote

      e) Family 

      f) Alone 

2) An accomplished poet, Javier Zamora chose to tell the story of his migration to the US from the prospective of the past, and his age (9) at the time of the journey. 

   a) What was the result of this decision on the part of the writer? 

   b) In what ways would a book told as an adult differ than that told from the perspective of a child? 

3) Were you surprised by aspects of Javier’s journey - the places he stayed, the different types of transportation, the saga of walking through the desert? What surprised you and why?

4) Javier had various habits and ways of thinking that seemed to make the trip more bearable to him.  Talk about the things that helped him endure.  What role did pop culture play?

5) Patricia, Chino and Carla were very important to Javier during his journey.  How did they seem to come together, and why did that seem important to each of them?  Why didn’t other adults seem to bond with each other and Javier?

6) Javier’s journey took place in 1999.  How do you think immigration issues have changed since then? How do you think they should change?

7) Are you aware of the legal process of immigrating and also of seeking asylum?  Javier mentions several attempts that were made in seeking a visa.  Were you aware of the difficulties? Do you know someone who has immigrated legally to the US in the past 20-30 years?  How does his or her experience differ from Javier’s journey?

8) Ultimately, how did this book make you feel? What do you think the author wanted you to feel?  Was he successful or not? Why or why not?