I don’t usually write about books before I have finished them, but this one has blown me away from the very beginning. The only reason I haven’t finished it is that the need to finish a book is not yet a legitimate reason to stay home from work and forget about feeding the family…
It’s another one of these books that I happened on by chance at the library. Thank goodness for libraries – if I only read books I hear people talking about (or read reviews of ) I would be missing out on a lot.
Eire’s style in describing his childhood in Havana during the end of the Batista era (son of a judge) and the beginning of Castro’s takeover is spellbinding and unique. It is so vivid yet not sugar-coated; it’s not as if everything was the paradise Eire’s teachers tried to claim it was until “out of the blue” bad things happened. His method of describing childhood memories in Havana and then throwing in comments, snippets highlighting the future trauma when his life changed completely, delivers quite a punch.
Eire was airlifted out of Cuba when he was eleven years old with his brother. He was allowed to take absolutely nothing but a change of clothes, not even photos of his family or a familiar object. Then he began a life of an orphaned refugee.
Not only do I think this is a fascinating book to read at any time, I find it particularly relevant nowadays – Cuba’s new relations with the U.S.A and what it feels like to be a refugee. I’m not so interested in his comments related to wrestling with tenets of the Catholic faith, but the book does tie into my current ROOTS research – my own grandmother lived in Havana for a few years in the fifties.