Captive in America: A Gypsy in Dixie Memoir Released
Merinda Soldano’s just-released memoir, Captive in America: A Gypsy in Dixie, is an overview of the life of a Romani “traveller” whose childhood was spent in a Gypsy enclave—in a Memphis, TN, trailer park. Captive in America includes first-person accounts from Soldano and other family members who explain cultural oddities such as why Gypsies love Clorox and dress up more for funerals than weddings.
Soldano’s grandmother was a fortune-teller; her father was an Elvis impersonator with a drinking problem. Her childhood was spent near pawn shops and topless bars of Memphis’ Lamar Avenue. Family members forced her to drop out of school before she entered middle school in the 1970s.
When Solano was 13, her father handed her over to an 18 year-old foreigner. At 14, she bore the first of her eventual six children. As a survival skill, teenaged Soldano learned the Arabic language along with customs of food, dress and religion. Although she lived in a half-million dollar home, she was psychologically held captive by her abusive husband. She prayed to the stars:“If there is a God, send someone to get me out!” In time, she found a secure life. She now lives in Olive Branch, MS, with her husband and children.
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