- Fizzy Thoughts: Broken Paradise

Broken Paradise

Monday, May 19, 2008

Broken Paradise
Cecilia Samartin
340 pages

Last night I stated that I would be reading this book this week. Well, I was wrong. I read it today, in about 3 hours.

Adele and Nora are cousins growing up in Cuba in the 1950s. After Castro takes power, Nora's family decides to leave for the US, while Adele and her parents stay behind. Although Nora is the main character, and the story follows her throughout her life, we also receive glimpses of Adele, as the girls exchange infrequent letters. Nora knows that things are rough in Cuba, and she misses her homeland desperately, but she believes, out of respect for her parents, that she will never return as long as Castro is in power. She continues to adapt to life in America and although she knows Adele's life is different, she never fully understands the sacrifices Adele has made for her family until she decides to return to Cuba. Once in Cuba, Nora is shocked at how much has changed, including Adele. Despite the 20 year separation, the cousins instantly reconnect. At the risk of destroying her relationship with her husband and her parents, Nora delays her return home to help Adele and her daughter Lucinda. The books ends with a devastating act of bravery (actually multiple acts of bravery), but I won't give them away.

Cecilia Samartin was 9 months old when her parents fled Cuba, and she grew up on tales of the family's homeland. This book shines with love for Cuba. It also is filled with vitriol against Castro. The book also touches on other immigrant themes...the struggle to assimilate, battles between generations over the ways of the homeland vs. life in America and the longing for one's country. It also questions whether you really can go home again.

One last note...because the revolution is depicted through the eyes of a young Nora, the book doesn't really give much insight into Cuba's history. Actually, it doesn't give any insight. Nora and Adele's families are part of the upper-middle class, and although they would like to see change, they are horrified at the Communist's rise to power. And that's about all you get because that's not the focus of the book.

2 comment(s):

LisaMM said...

Hi Jill, this sounds great!

Have you read any Edwidge Danticat? Her stories are set in Haiti but your review sort of reminded me of them.

Have a great day!

softdrink said...

*sigh* Another author to add to the must read pile. :-D

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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