“[An] unforgettable memoir…This wrenching story brings to vivid life the plight of the many families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.”

— Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

The Book of Rosy

A Mother’s Story of Separation at the Border

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

About the Book

“I am forever astonished by Rosayra, for her unbelievable strength to share this
story with us.” – Christopher Soto, author of Sad Girl

PEOPLE Magazine Best Books of Summer 2020
TIME Magazine Best Books of Summer 2020
PARADE Best Books of Summer 2020
ELLE Most Anticipated Books of Summer 2020

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.

About the Authors

ROSAYRA PABLO CRUZ is the mother of four children. She owned a small clothing store in Guatemala before coming to the U.S. Now living in New York, she is the co-president of her oldest son’s Parent Teacher Association and is active in her church and community.

JULIE SCHWIETERT COLLAZO, co-founder and director of Immigrant Families Together, is a bilingual (English-Spanish) writer, editor, and translator, and a former creative arts therapist. She has co-written and edited a book about Pope Francis, which has been translated into more than a dozen languages and is a bestseller in Italy. Her work has appeared in a number of media outlets, including Outside, Scientific American, Discover, Latina, The Guardian, and Time, and she has contributed to several books. She lives in New York City.

“I am forever astonished by Rosayra, for her unbelievable strength to share this story with us, while still healing from its traumas and fighting for asylum. The Book of Rosy is a brave recording of one of America’s most shameful moments.”

— Christopher Soto Author of Sad Girl Problems

“A must read. Gripping, beautiful, heartbreaking and life-affirming. This intimate tale of one woman’s journey across the border shines a light on the circumstances that have led thousands of women to risk all in order to give their children a safer, better life. It’s a testament to the compassion of strangers and that in these troubled times, storytelling still has the power to increase our empathy and understanding. Reading this book will change you for the better.”

— J. Courtney Sullivan New York Times bestselling author of Saints for All Occasions

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

— Kirkus Reviews STARRED REVIEW

“A deeply moving and very important book… It ought to be read by everyone who claims to be an American. It ought to be read by everyone who is a citizen of the world.”

— John Perkins New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman and Touch the Jaguar

“Offers hope in the face of desperate odds.”

ELLE Magazine ELLE's Most Anticipated Books of Summer 2020

Resources + Reading Guide

If you’re asking yourself “How can I help?” after reading Rosy’s story, here are a few ways to get involved in supporting asylum seekers and other immigrant neighbors. Start by reading The Book of Rosy Reading Guide.

  • READ
    Learning more about the history of immigration and migration, borders, and the complicated relationships between the United States and other countries is crucial to understanding the root causes of migration and immigration policies. Reading about these subjects will help fill the vital context often absent from mainstream media news reports.
    Voting is an essential act, of course, but writing and calling electing officials to support or express opposition to policies that harm migrants and the diversity of our communities are other ways to exercise your rights. Pay attention to local politics, too, even at the municipal level. Local and state policies, such as allowing municipal police to collaborate with ICE, often prop up federal policies or, in ideal scenarios, propose alternatives that advance a more progressive agenda.
    Where you shop and what you buy matter. Avoid patronizing companies that support detention centers and their contractors. The website and app Goods Unite Us evaluates and scores companies based on their political donations, allowing you to direct your dollars in a way that’s aligned with your own beliefs.
    Organizations dedicated to migration and borderlands issues use your contributions to provide direct support to asylum seekers. Donations to Immigrant Families Together pay for asylum seekers’ bonds and cover the expenses for their legal fees, housing, food, health care, and transportation to and from legal appointments. This level of support provides families with greater safety and stability while they are waiting for their asylum decision, as the majority of them are not yet allowed to work. If you don’t have the money to donate, host a fundraiser! A lemonade stand can raise enough money to feed a family — there’s no such thing as “too small” or “too little.”
    White many organizations doing the day-to-day work of supporting asylum seekers simply don’t have the staffing to be able to manage volunteers, others rely on people who can volunteer their time and energy to the organization’s work. One of these is Team Brownsville, in Brownsville, Texas, which feeds asylum seekers and welcomes them at the locus bus station upon their release from detention. They are always looking for volunteers to help serve meals.
    A number of special arts and crafts projects invite you to use your talent and skill to show solidarity with asylum seekers and other immigrants. One particularly lovely project is Welcome Blanket, which invites quilters and knitters to make blankets that “provide literal and symbolic comfort and warmth” for people who have nearly arrived in the United States.