A couple of years ago, I approached the book reviews editor of Salamander to ask if they might be open to a review I’d just written about Ellen Bryant Voight’s Kyrie. The editors graciously declined, saying they preferred to focus on titles more recently in press, given the hardship the pandemic had posed to writers with new books, who were unable to promote them as they might have otherwise.
I had to respect that logic, and fortunately, my review found a home with the Los Angeles Review a short time later. All the same, I was surprised and pleased when Salamander’s reviews editor approached me last fall and asked if I might consider taking on one of two recent titles they were seeking reviewers for. I said yes to one: Amy C. Roma’s By the Bridge or By the River?, a collection of real-life stories of refugees from Central America’s so-called Northern Triangle, consisting of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras—a region known for its poverty and chronic violence. These families that Roma, an attorney, volunteered her time to assist, were fleeing unspeakable violence and living in terror. While each story conveyed in Roma’s book is unique, all have overlapping themes. The families left their countries under harrowing circumstances and were willing to take risks most of us could never fathom for the hope of asylum in the United States.
Roma received the 2020 C & R Press Non-Fiction Award for this sobering work, and it was not an easy book to review. That being said, I learned a lot in the process and it did give me a new lens through which to view the complex issues surrounding immigration. The review is here if you would like to read it.