Nobody Wanted Me by Soledad Castillo

Chapter of Soledad Castillo's story

a nutshell: this is a moving account of resilience from a young refugee, Soledad, who fled her native Honduras aged 14 (having survived disease, sexual assault by her step-father, and child labour) to forge a new life for herself in California

a line: “Many Americans think that we come here to take their jobs, to do bad things, to take advantage of the country. I’m not a bad person. I came here to survive, to do better in this world, to help my family and other people.”

an image: Soledad describes the moment when, aged 12, she fearfully told her mother what her step-father had done; refusing to believe her, her mother tried to hit her and the 12 year old ended up running from the house crying – on returning a few hours later, she found her mother packing the child’s clothes and she was sent away from home into unpaid work

a thought: it’s uplifting to read how sharing her story has changed Soledad’s life – now if she ever feels sad or despairing, she rereads what she wrote to be reminded that so many things have come true for her; that she can get up and go on

a fact: Soledad is currently studying for a degree while working for John Burton Advocates for Youth, a civic organisation that advocates for foster children’s rights

Soledad’s story is featured in Solito, Solita: Crossing Borders with Youth Refugees from Central America (ed. Steven Mayers & Jonathan Freedman)

want to read the book? visit here

The Secret River by Kate Grenville [T/W: racism, colonialism, sexual assault]

a nutshell: the efforts of a London convict, William Thornhill, to reinvent himself as a gentlemanly landowner on a hillside outside Sydney become a microcosm for the atrocities committed by the British colony against Aboriginal people

a line: “in the world of these naked savages, it seemed everyone was gentry”

an image: every scene with Smasher Sullivan, another ’emancipated’ settler, is extremely disturbing – but among the most horrific is one in which he flaunts an Aboriginal woman he has chained up as his sex slave

a thought: on finishing this bleak book I was (as often) left deeply ashamed of Britain’s imperial history; Thornhill’s exploitation of his eventual position of power – despite, or due to, an impoverished background – is irredeemably repulsive

a fact: the main protagonist, Thornhill, is based on a family member of Grenville; the author used to ask her mother what had happened to Aboriginal people on their ancestors’ arrival and ended up digging into her family history to discover the hideous truths

 

want to read The Secret River? visit here