I just finished reading Antonio, We Know You by Antonio Salazar-Hobson yesterday and although it is under 270 pages, it took me a little while to read because of it’s heavy and emotional subject matter. Antonio, We Know You is Antonio Salazar-Hobson’s true life story as told by him.
Antonio lived in Arizona, born to Mexican immigrant parents who were field workers. He was the 11th child out of 14. As a small child, he was unaware of all the hardships his family endured because he was so young and felt the love of his mother and older siblings, especially his sisters who would take care of him, bathe him, etc. As he got a little bit older (but still not that old, only around 3 years old) he started to recognize his father’s alcoholism and abuse towards Antonio’s mother as well as the children. It was around this time that an older, white couple moved down the street and took an interest in the Salazar family. The Hobsons knew Spanish and insinuated themselves into the family. They were around so much that Antonio’s parents eventually trusted them and allowed some of the children to visit with the Hobson’s unsupervised and some of the kids, including Antonio, would go for sleepovers on the weekends.
Eventually, they only invited 4 year old Antonio over, and the worst imaginable thing began to happen. They began sexually abusing Antonio and not only that but invited other strange, old men over. When it started to become evident to Antonio’s parents that something was wrong due to his change in behavior, weight loss, becoming mute, etc. his parents forbade Antonio and all the children to ever see the Hobsons again. Antonio started to become better but then the Hobsons kidnapped Antonio and fled to California.
Antonio recounts the years he was scared and alone, missing his family, abused by the Hobsons and any of the men they trafficked him to for years. It was incredibly sad and heartbreaking to read. The bright spots in Antonio’s childhood were his ability to overcome his lack of schooling to eventually excel at school, a few teachers and principals who showed how much they cared and worried for him not really buying the Hobsons story of adopting Antonio, and the other Chicanos that Antonio meets over the years that remind him of his family and home. He goes on to recount his teen years, meeting Cesar Chavez and being taken under his wing which helped foster his desire to help with farmer’s rights, college, law school, finding love, etc. all while the Hobsons continued to try to sabotage his life even when they weren’t a daily part of it anymore.
It was such a heavy book that I had to take frequent breaks reading it and could only read a little at a time because it made me so emotional. I don’t know how he kept going despite all the abuse and horrible things he endured. I honestly don’t think I would’ve been able to do it.
It was an eye-opening and emotional read. I think it is worth reading, but just prepare yourself for it!
*This book was gifted to me, but all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.*