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'She was a fighter till the very end:' Keeping Syrena Arevalo-Trujillo alive through Barrio Books

South Tucson community coming together to support family in bringing Syrena's dream to reality
Syrena Arevalo-Trujillo Barrio Books
Posted at 3:55 PM, Apr 16, 2024

SOUTH TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — On April 1, Syrena Arevalo-Trujillo lost her battle to pulmonary hypertension. She leaves behind her legacy of Barrio Books.

“Syrena believed in making space for BIPOC authors and especially people of her community to bring access to literature that sometimes goes underrepresented,” said Walter Trujillo, her husband.

Syrena Arevalo-Trujillo

Arevalo-Trujillo launched Barrio Books in 2018, and received a double lung transplant in 2019. Still, she built her dream, starting from her pop-up book shops, to a small shop in Hotel McCoy in 2021.

“You could just feel her love for books. It was super passionate,” said Amber Parker, a friend of Arevalo-Trujillo.

The next step in her journey was just months away.

Her goal was to open a new location of Barrio Books in South Tucson and make it a space for the community. Now, her family is determined to make her dream a reality.

Barrio Books

“I really want that bookstore to be a haven for children and families that look like us, sound like us, eat the same food that we eat, I want them to see themselves in those books,” said Anna Tarazon, her mother.

Her family was a part of Barrio Books as Arevalo-Trujillo fought through her battle. Her sister, Sarah Arevalo, said, “I knew how much the bookstore meant for her, and how much it meant for us to keep it going.”

Her family was able to step in to help her achieve Barrio Books, but she could no longer continue her passion for performing in mariachi groups while sick.

“She was a violinist and she was a part of Los Changuitos Feos,” said Walter Trujillo.

That was just one of the many groups she played in throughout her life. Her love of mariachi eventually introduced her to her husband.

Walter Trujillo

“We ended up competing against each other at the Las Cruces Mariachi Conference. She ended up being a winner, I always say she won the competition and I got the prize."
Walter Trujillo, Syrena's Husband
Walter Trujillo

“She was very goofy, very, her own person.”
Sarah Arevalo, Syrena's Sister
Syrena Arevalo-Trujillo

“We continue to speak her name, she was a guerrera, she was a warrior, she was a fighter till the very end.”
Ramon Munoz, Syrena's Friend
“She would say things… when I’m gone look for me in the monsoon rain. She had such an affinity for the rain and the monsoon that brought her peace and joy.”
Walter Trujillo, Syrena's Husband

In her honor, the family hopes to fast track the opening of Barrio Books to within the next four months. The family shared their gratitude of the community's support in making that happen.

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Reyna Preciado is a reporter for KGUN 9, she joined the KGUN 9 team in July of 2022 after graduating Arizona State University. Share your story ideas with Reyna by emailing reyna.preciado@kgun9.com or by connecting on Instagram, or Twitter.