The child of Salvadoran immigrants, Roberto Lovato grew up in 1970s and ’80s San Francisco as MS-13 and other notorious Salvadoran gangs were forming in California. A firsthand witness to chaos and violence, he eventually left for wartime El Salvador, where he joined the guerrilla movement against the US-backed, fascist military government responsible for barbaric crimes against humanity.
When Roberto returned to the United States, he channeled his pain into activism and journalism, and began the difficult journey of confronting the roots of his own trauma, including his tumultuous relationship with his father, Ramón, a scarred man prone to bouts of silence and fits of anger—a legacy of violence and rebellion that profoundly affected Roberto.
In Unforgetting, Roberto interweaves his father’s complicated history and his own with firsthand reportage on gang life, state violence, and the immigration crisis in both El Salvador and the United States. In doing so, he makes the political personal, revealing the cyclical ways in which violence operates, as well as how hope and tenderness can rise from the darkness if we are courageous enough to unforget.