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The Book of Rosy

(10 customer reviews)


by Rosayra Pablo Cruz, Julie Schwietert Collazo


After Rosera Pablo Cruz’s husband was murdered in 2018 in her hometown of Guatemala, she decided to move north with her two sons for a better life. But her troubles began: when she reached the US-Mexico border, her children were detained and placed in detention centers, and Pablo-Cruz spent 81 days in a cell. Their traumatic odyssey is pictured by Cruz’s memory, which sheds light on the plight of countless families separated while trying to cross the border.


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About this book

221 Pages
4 - 5 Hours to read
60k Total words


“Offers hope in the face of desperate odds” – ELLE Magazine, ELLE’s Most Anticipated Books of Summer 2020

“[D]isturbing and unforgettable memoir…This wrenching story brings to vivid life the plight of the many families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.” – Publisher’s Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“[The] haunting and eloquent…narrative of a Guatemalan woman’s desperate search for a better life.” –Kirkus, STARRED Review

PEOPLE Magazine Best Books of Summer 2020

TIME Magazine Best Books of Summer 2020

PARADE Best Books of Summer 2020

Compelling and urgently important, The Book of Rosy is the unforgettable story of one brave mother and her fight to save her family.

When Rosayra “Rosy” Pablo Cruz made the agonizing decision to seek asylum in the United States with two of her children, she knew the journey would be arduous, dangerous, and quite possibly deadly. But she had no choice: violence—from gangs, from crime, from spiraling chaos—was making daily life hell. Rosy knew her family’s one chance at survival was to flee Guatemala and go north.

After a brutal journey that left them dehydrated, exhausted, and nearly starved, Rosy and her two little boys arrived at the Arizona border. Almost immediately they were seized and forcibly separated by government officials under the Department of Homeland Security’s new “zero tolerance” policy. To her horror, Rosy discovered that her flight to safety had only just begun.

In The Book of Rosy, with an unprecedented level of sharp detail and soulful intimacy, Rosy tells her story, aided by Julie Schwietert Collazo, founder of Immigrant Families Together, the grassroots organization that reunites mothers and children. She reveals the cruelty of the detention facilities, the excruciating pain of feeling her children ripped from her arms, the abiding faith that staved off despair—and the enduring friendship with Julie, which helped her navigate the darkness and the bottomless Orwellian bureaucracy.

A gripping account of the human cost of inhumane policies, The Book of Rosy is also a paean to the unbreakable will of people united by true love, a sense of justice, and hope for a better future.

  • HarperCollins; June 2020
  • ISBN: 9780062941947
  • Title: The Book of Rosy
  • Author: Rosayra Pablo Cruz; Julie Schwietert Collazo
  • Imprint: HarperOne
  • Language: English

In The Press

“[The] haunting and eloquent…narrative of a Guatemalan woman’s desperate search for a better life.”

Additional information



10 reviews for The Book of Rosy

  1. stackofbooks

    Yes, this is Rosayra Pablo Cruz’s story about her migration from Guatemala to the United States and paying a steep price in the process. The moving book also serves two larger purposes: it puts a face to the Trump administration’s cruel zero tolerance policies that have separated parents from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border. Second, it explores how Rosy’s life intersected with that of Julie Schwietert Collazzo, founder of Immigrant Families Together, a nonprofit that has been reuniting separated families and helping them live full lives in their newly adopted country. Heartbreaking and hopeful, a home run.

  2. Alice Driver

    We rarely ever read migrants writing their own stories. This book is a poetic, powerful guy-punch of a read about how two women were affected by Trump’s immigrant family separation policies. It is also a testament to the power of one committed individual to create change that will go down in history.

  3. Gigi

    I’m glad to have purchased this book. She has a lot of courage and i admire her resilience. She is a woman of faith and she kept pushing to save her family and continues to shine a light and give hope for other women and children who are crossing over for a better life. I loved how much her boys have grown and i screamed with excitement when toward the end when… well I’m not going to let out any spoilers.. just read this book, it will not disappoint!

  4. Diane S.

    This book brought the horrible reality of mothers being separated from their children at the border to life.

  5. Elizabeth Percy

    It is an honest account of an immigrant mother. It gives a real look at the struggle the immigrants face as they desire a safe country for their families. I’m glad I read it.

  6. Bonnye Reed Fry

    I received a free electronic copy of this memoir from Netgalley, Rosayra Pablo Cruz, and publisher HarperCollins – Harper One. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this memoir of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. I heartily encourage friends and family to read The Book of Rosy. This is an honest look into the policy of separation of families at the border being experienced by those refugees seeking political asylum in the United States. Many of us live just an hour to two from the border. This is happening at our back door.I personally live just one hour from the international bridge at El Paso, Texas – Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua (El Paso-Juarez). We border locals do what we can – there are baskets at the exits to our local grocery stores for non-perishable food donations to this cause, and most of the thrift stores in this area would let you donate a box of solidly packed assorted clothing for $10. Of course, the Corona Virus has us currently shut-in and nothing is being recycled anywhere – and this problem of asylum seekers being separated and jailed has not shut down even during the pandemic. New Mexico has International bridges at Antelope Wells, New Mexico – El Berrendo; Chihuahua; Columbus, New Mexico – Palomas, Chihuahua; and Santa Teresa, New Mexico – San Jerónimo, Chihuahua. California has six border crossing areas and Texas and Arizona have many crossing areas so you can see that this is not a casual problem for us southwesterners, even in the best of times.At this moment there are still many children removed from their families years ago who are ‘lost’ in the details. I cannot imagine how that could happen, but it has been and is still a problem. For-Profit containment areas for these mothers and fathers are poorly run and inhumane for the most part and in many the virus is rampant. There is no such thing as social distancing in a prison environment. For example, my New Mexico county of Otero has as of today just 8 cases of the virus, with two deaths. Our jails, however, have 79 confirmed cases at the county prison and 66 at the ICE processing center on the Texas border as of Friday, May 22.We live in a world filled with refugees rampant on all continents. As a world, we have to learn how to settle these problems before they happen. I don’t have the solution but a little reinspection of the works of Mandela and Gandhi come to mind as a pattern to emulate.Please, read this book. Rosayra is only one of many abused by this system. And VOTE! Study your options well, and be first in line at the polls this fall. We do have a voice, at least in spirit, so do what you can, where you are, to bring humanity back to governments around the world.

  7. JAH

    This book is beautifully written! Rosy’s voice is honest, lyrical, and describes just how traumatic and difficult her personal journey to the US, and her encounter with Trump’s despicable zero tolerance policy was.This book is roughly divided into two parts: Rosayra Pablo Cruz’s story, and then Julie Schwietert Collazo’s journey to creating the non profit Immigrant Families Together, and how she became part of Rosy’s story here in the US.Rosy was born in Guatemala, lived mainly in poverty and survived several very traumatic events before she was even really an adult. Violence and death are everyday occurrences where she comes from, and she made the journey to the US a first time before going back home to join her children again, and then a second time once she realized her eldest son was in danger in Guatemala, leaving with her two sons. The second time happened just as Trump’s zero tolerance policy went into effect, and when Rosy claimed asylum at the border her two children were taken away from her and sent thousands of miles away.In the meantime, a group of women, including Julie, were so distraught about the fact that children were being ripped from their parents’ arms (who wouldn’t be?!), that they formed an organization to help pay women’s bonds, reunite them with their children, and help them navigate the system. It is thanks to Immigrant Families Together that Rosy was able to pay her bond, make the trip from Eloy to NYC and be reunited with her children.This period in US immigration history is especially dark, and it hurts my heart to think how many families were ripped apart, how many mothers were stuck in detention centers not knowing where their children had been taken. Rosy’s youngest son was still nursing when she made that second journey to the US, and still he was taken from her. The cruelty is unbelievable, yet it happened. I’m glad that Rosy’s story has a happier ending than some, but I finished the book wondering about all of the stories that did not have a happy ending, about all of the people stuck in detention centers, and all of the children who are still “lost” in the “system”. We are all human and we all have a right to a safe home, no matter where we come from. It’s not a crime to be an immigrant and to seek for safety, for a better life. So when are we going to stop criminalizing people for doing exactly that?

  8. Glady

    I received a free ARC of The Book of Rosy from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.The Book of Rosy: A Mother’s Story of Separation at the Border reveals the heart-wrenching true story of a Guatemalan migrant mother and two of her children as they seek freedom in the United States. It’s been months since the cable news channels have focused on the cruelties and deprivations of the makeshift border camps where children are forcibly removed from their parents. The news cycle may have moved on to the presidential race but the issues presented in this timely memoir still exist. One part of this book reveals the perilous journey of Rosy and her family to the United States, the terrifying ordeal of imprisonment and separation at Homeland Security border camps, and the subsequent unexpected kindness of strangers and communities who rally to support Rosy while she undergoes the legal hoopla called asylum. The other part of this book explains the origins and steadfastness of groups in this country that are determined to ameliorate the cruelty of the current administration’s immigration policies.Rosy is the widowed mother of four children in Guatemala. Her husband had been murdered and her life was nearly taken. Drug and gang violence, poverty, and constant uncertainty surround her family. The only saving graces she has – her devoted extended family and a work ethic focused on improving her family’s chances for survival. Fearing for her older son’s safety in a gang-ridden environment, Rosy leaves her two daughters with her mother and sister and begins the perilous journey north with her two boys. The coyote system of human transport is reminiscent of cattle cars headed to Auschwitz; they are overcrowded and filled with anguished, hungry and thirsty people. At times the migrants are uncertain if they will survive the journey.A desperate race across the border results in Rosy and her children taken into custody by border patrol. Separated from her children and placed in an ice-cold cell with other women is just the beginning of Rosy’s nightmarish experience with US regulations. In a short time, Rosy’s boys are taken to New York for foster care while she languishes in the camp with no sure mechanism for aid. It is sheer luck that places Rosy in contact with a lawyer who seeks to reunite mothers and their children. Volunteers across the US and countless others who donate financially enable Rosy to be released on bond and reunited with her children. Unfortunately, their future is still uncertain.The section of the book dealing with the rather spontaneous creation of “Immigrant Families Together” and its mission to help mothers separated from their children is quite powerful. The grassroots organization provides assistance to Rosy and others without a guidebook or a set of by-laws; its members know they must do something to help. It is humbling to read of such persistence in the face of political evil.Despite the horrors that Rosy and others have faced at the hands of our government, they express a hope and a dream that is shared by so many – and by our own immigrant ancestors. Read this book!

  9. BooksRBrainFood

    Thank you to #Netgalley #HarperCollinsPublishers #HarperOne for the early review copy of this book.I have read American Dirt and given all the controversy surrounding that book’s release, I felt as though reading an #ownvoices story of immigration from Mexico or in this case, Central America, would be a good counter-balance. A sort of check to my response to AD and the issues raised.Personally, although there are some similarities in the topics, this is a more personal story in my opinion than AD. I appreciated the chapters told from Rosayra”s perspective. These detailed the reasons for needing to flee Guatemala and the experiences she and her children faced in this process. She emphasizes the fact that no one chooses to flee their home country lightly. This is a difficult and courageous choice for those in need of protection for themselves and their children. Then to be met at the border, first by compassionate men and women doing the job of Border Patrol and then the second time, by the opposite response. Her faith is inspiring and I hope continues to grow.Julie’s contribution of telling the story from an activist side of the picture and how she and others were able to quickly put this community of helpers in place is also an interesting and inspiring part of this book. The vast network that Julie was able to put together is impressive. There are also websites and other information at the end of the book that tells readers how they can help if they are interested.Thank you to both of these women for the powerful voices and this truly incredible story.#TheBookofRosy #Netgalley

  10. Reading Is My Cardio Book Club

    “The Book of Rosy” tells the harrowing true story of Rosayra Pablo Cruz, who flees Guatemala with her two sons to seek asylum in the United States only to be separated from her children at the border and incarcerated by ICE.Told through two parallel stories – Rosy’s and that of Julie Schwietert Collazo, who created a group called Immigrant Families Together (IFT) – we see firsthand how two mothers’ lives become intertwined due to pain and trauma and how together they overcome it.The sections of the memoir written by Rosy explain her background growing up poverty-stricken in the increasingly dangerous country of Guatemala. She and her family endure the unthinkable and yet she still finds the strength and resilience to hope for something better for her children. Her writing is visceral – I was especially moved by this description of the dangerous journey to cross the border: “My heart breaks when I think about all the losses that have occurred along the Migrant Highway, each story that will be remembered only by the person who suffered it. If these losses were identified by tombstones, the whole highway would be lined by an unbroken chain of marble or humble markers. ‘Here lies a woman’s virginity.’ ‘Rest in eternal peace, stillborn infant.’ ‘RIP HOPE.’ The memorials of pain would be so poignant that you’d have to look away.”Once in the United States, Rosy recounts her detainment and separation from her children. She had crossed the border once before, prior to the implementation of the Trump zero-tolerance policies, and the contrast to the treatment she received then is stark and eye-opening. It is clear that the for-profit detention center she is sent to is more focused on making money and depriving people of their rights and dignity than anything else and it’s heartbreaking that we allow this mistreatment of anyone, but especially women and children. While she is incarcerated in Arizona, Rosy’s sons are sent to live in foster care hundreds of miles away in New York and with no family in the U.S. or money to hire to a lawyer or pay her $12,000 bail, her future looks bleak.Enter Julie, a Brooklyn mother and former social worker who is married to a Cuban immigrant and appalled by the Trump policies on separating families at the border. She decides one night she wants to do something about the situation and raises money to bail out one of the mothers in Rosy’s detention center, helping to reunite her with her children and guide her through the asylum process. What seemed like a one-off idea is so successful that soon IFT is formed to help more mothers. Julie and her team of extremely effective volunteers tap into the collective outrage over the horrible treatment of these families by the administration and eventually Rosy’s story comes to their attention via the attorney they work with, José Orochena, and she is bailed out and flown to New York to her sons.That would seem like it should be the happy ending but it’s not. Both Rosy and Julie continue to recount the generosity of New Yorkers who provided shelter, clothing and other forms of support to the family as they acclimate to their new lives. They share how hard it was for Rosy and the boys to find a semblance of normalcy again, even with the benefit of therapy. And Rosy’s asylum petition, and those for her boys, must still be resolved, an arduous and expensive process which would determine whether they could stay in the United States or be forced to return to Guatemala.This is a quick read – I finished it in a day – and worth every second. No matter where you land on the political spectrum, you should read this book to understand more about why people illegally cross into this country, what they risk to do so and how inhumanely they are treated if they get caught. You may be appalled by what people sacrifice to seek asylum and what they must endure at the hands of our government, but you’ll also find hope in the kindness and dedication of people like Julie and all of those who reach out to help these families who want nothing more than to give their children a chance.One last note – I read this book as the protests over George Floyd’s murder were unfolding all over the country. While “The Book of Rosy” is about immigration, there were several passages that felt so relevant to all of the unrest, especially this one from a Rosh Hashanah sermon Rosy and Julie attended (both are Christian but a temple in Brooklyn was instrumental in helping Rosy once she was released): “‘The barrage of things coming at us all at once is not going to let up soon,’ Rabbi Kolin said. ‘That is both the nature of life as well as this historical moment in which we are living. But in our own hands,’ she continued, ‘is the healing of our souls, our homes, and our world.” It is clear from Rosy’s story that making our world a better place is truly “in our hands” – “normal” people are the ones who stepped up and changed her life: a former DUI attorney with no immigration experience, a mother of three in Brooklyn who mobilized her friends, a congregation in Brooklyn who saw echoes of what their ancestors endured and wanted to help. If I take one thing from this book, it’s that each one of us can make a difference and have no excuse not to try.Thank you to NetGalley, Harper Collins and the authors for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

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