Tag Archives: Childhood

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
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Walking Down Memory Lane

As readers, it’s fun to re-visit or at least ponder the books we read when we were younger. I know my reading tastes have changed quite a bit but I thought it would be fun to share some of the books I read when I was younger. Kay’s post from the other day reminded me just how fun those reading years were so be sure to check out her post as well.

These books are in no particular order:

Nancy Drew

I read every single Nancy Drew book in the series and then moved on to the Hardy Boys. Girl detective, a mystery to solve, a handsome boyfriend. I was all over these books.

Sweet Valley High

Sweet Valley High was a favorite. There were several books in the series, all of them good. Twins, in high school. Two totally different personalities. Fun stuff.

Flowers in the Attic
Flowers in the Attic. A family is forced to live in the attic of their wealthy grandparents’ home after their father is killed in a car accident. It’s a bizarre story and there were at least four other books in the series. Talk about dysfunction!

The Outsiders

The Outsiders. I still love this book. Ponyboy, a Greaser, tries to figure it all out with his brothers as they deal with the aftermath of a fight which leaves a young man dead. I read this on my own, then in middle school we read it together as a class and then watched the movie. I handed it to my son at a time when he absolutely would not read a book and he loved it, too.

Harlequin Presents
Harlequin Presents. I am a little embarrassed to even say I read these but I could not get them into my hands fast enough. There was this bookstore inside the mall and my friends and I would head over with our pocket-money to spin that wire rack and take a new book home for the weekend. I was maybe eleven or twelve at the time. Oh la la! Actually, they were pretty tame.

Carrie
Carrie and Stephen King, in general. I read many of his books when I was young. Carrie was just one of them. I also read many of his short story collections during this time. The library had several copies, always available so I never had any trouble getting a copy. Except for the librarian who took it upon herself to give me a lecture every time I checked one out. Apparently, a young girl should not fill her mind with such horrible things. Tsk. Tsk. I mean, look at me. I turned out okay, right?

What books do you remember from childhood or from your early teen years?