Tag Archives: Memoir

Review: Waiting for Snow in Havana

Waiting for Snow in Havana

Waiting for Snow in Havana
By Carlos Eire
(Free Press, Paperback, 9780743246415, 2004, 390pp.)

The Short of It:

A young boy’s take on Cuba before and after Fidel Castro.

The Rest of It:

Waiting for Snow in Havana is both an exorcism and an ode to a paradise lost. For the Cuba of Carlos’s youth—with its lizards and turquoise seas and sun-drenched siestas—becomes an island of condemnation once a cigar-smoking guerrilla named Fidel Castro ousts President Batista on January 1, 1959. Suddenly the music in the streets sounds like gunfire. Christmas is made illegal, political dissent leads to imprisonment, and too many of Carlos’s friends are leaving Cuba for a place as far away and unthinkable as the United States. Carlos will end up there, too, and fulfill his mother’s dreams by becoming a modern American man—even if his soul remains in the country he left behind. –Simon & Schuster

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Given the subject matter, I expected it to be more factual but Eire chose to focus on his idyllic childhood. His childhood is fantastical in nature as Carlos was a very imaginative child. His mother, referred to as Marie Antoinette and his father Louis XVI, are rather mysterious figures. They are well-off but the father is preoccupied with his material wealth, more so than his family’s well-being.  So when the family is torn apart, it seems that the burden of responsibility falls on Carlos himself.

Written years later, Eire’s book is full of charm and wit but it’s apparent while reading just how painful his story is to tell. In fact, he’s often said that he wanted this to be a work of fiction, not a memoir and I must tell you, it does read like fiction so for those of you who shy away from memoirs, this might be a good one for you to grab.

My book club read this and we discussed it a couple of weeks ago.  I think we were all in agreement that the writing was lovely, but many felt nothing for Carlos. He was wealthy and spoiled and this prevented many from being able to relate to his story but I don’t know, there is something horrifying about living in a dream world and then being thrown into reality at such a young age. It’s almost more tragic.

Overall, a good discussion book, lovely writing and you’ll learn a little about pre-war Cuba.

Waiting for Snow in Havana won the National Book Award in 2003.

Source: Borrowed
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Review: It Was Me All Along (A Memoir)

It Was Me All Along
It Was Me All Along (A Memoir)

By Andie Mitchell
(Clarkson Potter, Hardcover, 9780770433246, January 6, 2015, 240pp.)

The Short of It:

A warm, sometimes funny, often heartbreaking novel about a young girl trying to find herself.

The Rest of It:

Yes, folks! It’s a memoir. I know I don’t read them often but this was written by a blogger I’ve been following for the better part of a year and a half. Andie Mitchell’s blog, Can You Stay For Dinner? chronicles her weight loss journey, which truly began when she was in college, but it’s really about so much more than that and although the blog alludes to certain periods in her life, the book goes into them in detail.

Raised in a loving family but one battling the effects of alcoholism, Andie learned at a very young age that food could be comforting. Her love of food is both a blessing and a curse, and all the while her story is told with the utmost honesty, tinged with a great deal of shame.

There was a decade, back in the 90’s I want to say, where weight loss memoirs were a dime a dozen. I can’t even remember the last time I’ve read one, but this one really has a different tone to it. Yes, it focuses on food and weight loss but it’s more about a young woman trying to find her place in the world. Mitchell’s struggle for acceptance, her bouts of isolation and shame, are things that we can all relate to, regardless of weight.

On her blog, she writes as if she’s talking to a close friend. The book has that same tone. It’s warm and inviting and even though I don’t know her personally, I feel as if I do. Plus, her story is inspirational. She lost over 135 lbs and at no point was it easy.

The other thing I really enjoyed is the way she writes about food. She’s a foodie, no doubt about it and any foodie will be drooling over her take of a perfect cupcake or pizza pie. Clearly, her love of food is still present but the way she views food is what’s changed.

I really enjoyed this one. If you’re looking for something different to break up your fiction pile, give this book a try.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.