Carlos Eire's story of a boyhood uprooted by the Cuban Revolution quickly lures us in, as 11-year-old Carlos and his older brother, Tony, touch down in the sun-dappled Miami of 1962 - a place of daunting abundance where his old Cuban self must die to make way for a new, American self waiting to be born.
In this enchanting new work, narrated in Eire's inimitable and lyrical voice, young Carlos adjusts to life in his new country. He lives for a time in a Dickensian foster home, struggles to learn English, attends American schools, and confronts the age-old immigrant's plight: surrounded by the bounty of this rich land yet unable to partake. Carlos must learn to balance the divide between his past and present lives and find his way in this strange new world of gas stations, vending machines, and sprinkler systems.
Every bit as poignant, bittersweet, and humorous as his first memoir, Learning to Die in Miami is a moving personal saga, an elegy for a lost childhood and a vanished country, and a celebration of the spirit of renewal that America represents.
©2010 Carlos Eire (P)2010 Tantor
"Eire...describes the classic American immigrant experience...with a mix of insightful observation, humor, and heartfelt emotion." (Publishers Weekly)
I have not read the print version. Cannot opine.
Carlos. He told his story which was almost my story and the story of most kids who were sent by our parents to the US at the beginning of the Revolution.
When they went to the Country Club in Miami. As a child I also went to that club and it brought back many many memories.
Yes. It made me both laugh and cry. It reminded us of the great sacrifice our parents made for us and it also made me thankful that they did.
I can't wait till Carlos writes another book. He is a great story teller.
This second volume of Eire's account of his experiences as one of the Operation Peter Pan children takes him from arrival in Miami in 1962 up to the recent past, the death of his mother in Chicago, the decline of his brother Tony and his own reconciliation with who he is - not Charles, not Chuck, but Carlos. The quick cuts in timeline between past and present and in-between can be somewhat confusing since there is no printed page to refer back and forth, but it comes together well as an experiential whole. More than a history of a child and a man, it is the story of the survival of a soul repeatedly transformed through death to self and past, a survival that is often in doubt over the nearly 50 years covered by the book.
Narrator Robert Fass has an excellent facility with switching between languages, accents and voices and really delivers the non-fiction story with all the vocal color of a good novel.
My book club read this book, thinking we would be familiar with the topic since we live in south Florida and have many friends and coworkers with Cuban roots, but this memoir told a different story than anything we had heard before. Sure, we had heard of the "Pedro Pan" airlift which "saved" lots of kids from Castro's Cuba, but this first-person account was nothing like the glib news releases we had heard years ago. The author tells about his experience as one of over 14,000 children, mostly boys, who were flown to Miami from Cuba between 1960 and 1962. Each was told that their parents would be following shortly afterwards, but in most cases, this was not possible. These kids relied on the kindness of distant relatives in the U.S., former friends or neighbors of their parents, and in one compelling part of this story, an unrelated Jewish family who could relate to losing one's home country. A loose network of social workers, foster parents, and church officials oversaw the welfare of the kids until the parents were able to join them some years later. Carlos Eire tells what it was like to be one of these children. He was 11 when he and his brother arrived in Miami, and this book describes his experience as he travels from one temporary home to another, trying to assimilate and make his way in this new world without much help from anyone. It is funny and sad, and a very honest account of how a preteen boy struggles into adulthood under these conditions. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Eire is a wonderful writer and Fass does a great job as narrator.
Say something about yourself!
This is not a book people will forget.
The mother. Her vision of her children's future, their promise. Doing whatever was necessary to ensure their promise had a chance to manifest itself.
Very good performance, quick assuming the different parts very well.
Very unique stories, ones you will not forget. So sad when I look through my library at books I have read and can not recall what they were. Some, it all comes back to me. This is one of those. A story we would have never known without this labor of love.
Very finely written book. As I prepare to make my first foray to Cuba, Eire's two books have been a great preparation. Recommended to me by a Cuban friend, this book chronicles a spiritual and psychological triumph.
The author's life is quite interesting, but his writing style is so repetitive and he uses these heavy-handed metaphors that getting through the book was a slog.
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