My Side of the River: A Memoir (Hardcover)

My Side of the River: A Memoir By Elizabeth Camarillo Gutierrez Cover Image

My Side of the River: A Memoir (Hardcover)

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A New York Times Editor's Pick
A People Magazine Best Book to Read in February
A Goodreads Most Anticipated Book of 2024


My Side of the River is both fierce and poetic. It brilliantly reframes border writing while embracing nature and familial history. There are moments one sees greatness appear. This is one of those moments.” —Luis Alberto Urrea, New York Times bestselling author of Good Night, Irene

Elizabeth Camarillo Gutierrez reveals her experience as the U.S. born daughter of immigrants and what happened when, at fifteen, her parents were forced back to Mexico in this captivating and tender memoir.

Born to Mexican immigrants south of the Rillito River in Tucson, Arizona, Elizabeth had the world at her fingertips. She was preparing to enter her freshman year of high school as the number one student when suddenly, her own country took away the most important right a child has: the right to have a family.

When her parents’ visas expired and they were forced to return to Mexico, Elizabeth was left responsible for her younger brother, as well as her education. Determined to break the cycle of being a “statistic,” she knew that even though her parents couldn’t stay, there was no way she could let go of the opportunities the U.S. could provide. Armed with only her passport and sheer teenage determination, Elizabeth became what her school would eventually describe as an unaccompanied homeless youth, one of thousands of underage victims affected by family separation due to broken immigration laws.

For fans of Educated by Tara Westover and The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande, My Side of the River explores separation, generational trauma, and the toll of the American dream. It’s also, at its core, a love story between a brother and a sister who, no matter the cost, is determined to make the pursuit of her brother’s dreams easier than it was for her.

Elizabeth Camarillo Gutierrez was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, as a second-generation immigrant. She graduated from high school at the top of her class and, in 2018, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in philosophy, politics, and economics. She worked as a banking analyst at Wells Fargo and is now a product manager at a big tech company, where she uses her background and knowledge to empower communities. She has been featured on NPR’s Latino USA and delivered a viral TED Talk on finding opportunity and stability in the United States while examining flaws in narratives that simplify and idealize the immigrant experience. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Product Details ISBN: 9781250277954
ISBN-10: 1250277957
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: February 13th, 2024
Pages: 272
Language: English

My Side of the River is both fierce and poetic. It brilliantly reframes border writing while embracing nature and familial history. There are moments one sees greatness appear. This is one of those moments.” —Luis Alberto Urrea, New York Times bestselling author of Good Night, Irene

“[A] testament to the abiding allure—and often daunting reality—of the American dream.”
New York Times Book Review

“[A] moving, timely memoir.”
New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice

"Affecting." People Magazine

"Elizabeth Camarillo’s My Side of the River is the book that everyone should read to understand the depth of the strength and achievements of Latinos in the United States. Poignant and tender, hers is an inspiring journey that will most certainly illuminate the path for many others." —Rafael Agustin, author of Illegally Yours

“Captivating . . . . This is an inspirational example of dedication, devotion, and triumph over multiple oppressive juggernauts.” Booklist

"A brave, honest, heartbreaking, and educational memoir. Elizabeth Gutierrez Camarillo unveils the many realities of being a first generation American whose family continually crosses, and is separated by, borders. My Side of the River is a timely book that uses the power of personal story to invoke societal change. I know many young people and families will find themselves in Elizabeth’s story, and many others will be inspired to action." —Justin Baldoni, star of Jane the Virgin and author of Man Enough

“Open and candid . . . A moving story of the humanity at the center of the often-breathless and uninformed immigration debate."Kirkus Reviews

“[A] powerful, often heartbreaking story . . . . Sharp, incisive, and often wryly funny, Gutierrez's memoir is a necessary addition to the complex conversation around immigration in the U.S.” Shelf Awareness

“Written in an immersive and easy-to-read style, [My Side of the River] shows readers what it was like for Camarillo Gutierrez throughout those difficult times before she achieved an impressive level of success.”Library Journal

“Camarillo Gutierrez sustains a sense of urgency to her writing . . . and creates an involving, inspirational portrait of personal resilience and firm family bonds. It’s galvanizing stuff.” Publishers Weekly