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Waiting on Wednesday: Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy by Carlos Eire

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Title: Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy
Author: Carlos Eire
Publication Date: November 2, 2010
Synopsis from GoodReads:
 In his 2003 National Book Award–winning memoir Waiting for Snow in Havana, Carlos Eire narrated his coming of age in Cuba just before and during the Castro revolution. That book literally ends in midair as eleven-year-old Carlos and his older brother leave Havana on an airplane—along with thousands of other children—to begin their new life in Miami in 1962. It would be years before he would see his mother again. He would never again see his beloved father.
Learning to Die in Miami opens as the plane lands and Carlos faces, with trepidation and excitement, his new life. He quickly realizes that in order for his new American self to emerge, his Cuban self must "die." And so, with great enterprise and purpose, he begins his journey.
We follow Carlos as he adjusts to life in his new home. Faced with learning English, attending American schools, and an uncertain future, young Carlos confronts the age-old immigrant’s plight: being surrounded by American bounty, but not able to partake right away. The abundance America has to offer excites him and, regardless of how grim his living situation becomes, he eagerly forges ahead with his own personal assimilation program, shedding the vestiges of his old life almost immediately, even changing his name to Charles. Cuba becomes a remote and vague idea in the back of his mind, something he used to know well, but now it "had ceased to be part of the world."
But as Carlos comes to grips with his strange surroundings, he must also struggle with everyday issues of growing up. His constant movement between foster homes and the eventual realization that his parents are far away in Cuba bring on an acute awareness that his life has irrevocably changed. Flashing back and forth between past and future, we watch as Carlos balances the divide between his past and present homes and finds his way in this strange new world, one that seems to hold the exhilarating promise of infinite possibilities and one that he will eventually claim as his own.
An exorcism and an ode, Learning to Die in Miami is a celebration of renewal—of those times when we’re certain we have died and then are somehow, miraculously, reborn.
I really enjoyed Eire's Waiting for Snow in Havana. If you've been around much lately, you know that my father-in-law is Cuban. We bought him that book one year and he absolutely loved it. He said it was everything he remembered from that time. I didn't know anything about what went on during the Cuban Revolution, so I decided to check it out myself. It got a little too political for me toward the end, with failed plots against Castro and such, but I did enjoy getting a little peek into my father-in-law's past. This memoir sounds excellent also. I finished The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez over the weekend, a fictional account of a teenage girl's exile, and I highly recommend it too. I'll be keeping an eye out for Learning to Die in Miami.

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6 comments:

  1. This sounds very similar to The Red Umbrella, which I read this summer and enjoyed. I like that it has a male protagonist. I will be on the look out for this one.

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  2. Jen...this sounds like a good one - thanks, as I hadn't heard of it!

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  3. It's always interesting to take the time and walk in someone elses shoes. This sounds like it would be a good read for that. Thanks for sharing :)

    Come see what my WOW is this week

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  4. This sounds exciting and informative, too.

    Here's mine:

    Click on my name....

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  5. Very cool to read up on your Father-In-Laws past and at the same time get to read something that you enjoy!


    My WOW today at Housewife Blues and Chihuahua Stories

    jackie ^_^

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  6. Great pick! I have not heard of it before. My WOW Is at The Crowded Leaf.

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Thanks for taking the time to comment! Have a great day!

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