Monday, November 1, 2010

My Havana: Memories of a Cuban Boyhood

My Havana: Memories of a Cuban Boyhood
by Rosemary Wells with Secundino Fernandez
Candlewick, 2010. 65 pages. Fiction.

Rosemary Wells' latest sits uneasily between fiction and non-fiction. With architect Secundino Fernandez' help, she retells his story of growing up in Cuba, having to move to Spain temporarily, and then having to leave Cuba permanently when Fidel Castro came to power. Because she writes in first person, the book is categorized as fiction, though it is no doubt authentic. Whatever it is, it is good. Dino loves the warmth and light and heart of his native land, and spends so many hours sketching Havana's buildings that his best friend thinks he will grow up to be "a fussy old professor with white hair growing out of [his] nose." Wells' descriptions of Cuba are evocative and lovely, and make Dino's relocation to cold, gray New York hard to bear. But when Dino goes to Coney Island in a New York springtime, and rides the Ferris wheel high enough to see the ocean, he knows Cuba is somewhere beyond the horizon and feels content. Wells makes no bones about the "perfidy and silliness of politicians" which keeps Americans and their Cuban neighbors apart. Perhaps this splendid little book will someday help us get back together.

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