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“Have mercy on me, Lord, I am Cuban.” In 1962, Carlos Eire was one of 14,000 children airlifted out of Havana—exiled from his family, his country, and his own childhood by Fidel Castro’s revolution. This stunning memoir is a vibrant and evocative look at Latin America from a child’s unforgettable experience.

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.

Narrated with the urgency of a confession, Waiting for Snow in Havana is a eulogy for a native land and a loving testament to the collective spirit of Cubans everywhere.

Topics: Communism

Published: Free Press on Feb 5, 2003
ISBN: 9780743245708
List price: $13.99
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I didn't actually finish this but I still really enjoyed what I read. Written by a scholar, this is the memoir of his childhood in pre-Castro Cuba. At the age of 11 his parents shipped him and his brother to America and that was the last time he saw his father. He has a very entertaining and captivating writing style. The only reason I didn't finish is because apparently I've become completely shallow lately. I need fluffy fiction. I do hope to finish this once I become an adult again :)read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Wonderful description of a little boy's life in the 1950's with the author's experiences in Havana, Cuba mirroring my husband's childhood in Springfield MA. Eire's description of rocks as toys, grandparents and aunts in residence, fascination with incendiary devices such re fireworks, even the classic clown costume, are a few of the universal rights of childhood in the 50's.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I didn't actually finish this but I still really enjoyed what I read. Written by a scholar, this is the memoir of his childhood in pre-Castro Cuba. At the age of 11 his parents shipped him and his brother to America and that was the last time he saw his father. He has a very entertaining and captivating writing style. The only reason I didn't finish is because apparently I've become completely shallow lately. I need fluffy fiction. I do hope to finish this once I become an adult again :)read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Reviews

I didn't actually finish this but I still really enjoyed what I read. Written by a scholar, this is the memoir of his childhood in pre-Castro Cuba. At the age of 11 his parents shipped him and his brother to America and that was the last time he saw his father. He has a very entertaining and captivating writing style. The only reason I didn't finish is because apparently I've become completely shallow lately. I need fluffy fiction. I do hope to finish this once I become an adult again :)
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Wonderful description of a little boy's life in the 1950's with the author's experiences in Havana, Cuba mirroring my husband's childhood in Springfield MA. Eire's description of rocks as toys, grandparents and aunts in residence, fascination with incendiary devices such re fireworks, even the classic clown costume, are a few of the universal rights of childhood in the 50's.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I didn't actually finish this but I still really enjoyed what I read. Written by a scholar, this is the memoir of his childhood in pre-Castro Cuba. At the age of 11 his parents shipped him and his brother to America and that was the last time he saw his father. He has a very entertaining and captivating writing style. The only reason I didn't finish is because apparently I've become completely shallow lately. I need fluffy fiction. I do hope to finish this once I become an adult again :)
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Subtitled “Confessions of a Cuban Boy,” this memoir first caught my eye because of the great title, then because it was written by one of the boys separated from his family during the early reign of Fidel Castro, during the Operation Pedro Pan exodus, an attempt to save children of those deemed against the Revolution, those most in danger.The book almost lost me when the author along with other little boys, cruel as children often can be, started torturing lizards, symbolic of much to come. I expected a typical memoir but that is certainly not what I got. The writing is not linear, the author speaks to us readers directly, and frequently gives hints of what is to come, promises to tell us more later. The style is quirky and was a bit disconcerting to me until I gave myself over to the author's story.The child, Carlos, most often refers to his father as Louis XVI, as his father claimed to be in a former life, and his mother as Marie Antoinette, although she did not claim to be a reincarnation. His father was a judge and an attorney, one of the privileged ones under Batista. Childhood in Havana is painted in pictures vibrant and astounding, family and friends all coming to life. Very little of the book deals with Carlos or his family after Carlos was separated from his brother, the only person he knew in the United States, as soon as they landed.Some examples of the author's style of prose:“Crotons of all kinds. Giant philodendrons. Caladiums. Flowers. Palms in all shapes and sizes. Especially royal palms, so tall, so regal. So Cuban. Palms that pierce my heart and entrails to this very day.”“I was one of the lucky ones. Fidel couldn't obliterate me as he did all the other children, slicing off their heads over so slowly, and replacing them with fearful, slavish copies of his own. New heads held in place by two bolts, like Boris Karloff's in Frankenstein, one bolt forged from fear, the other from illusion.”“If Adam and Eve hadn't screwed up so badly, and their children had been able to play in the Garden of Eden, they would have laughed just like we did that day, when we threw rocks at one another on the edge of the turquoise sea.”“To understand Fidel you have to be out of your mind. To live with the memories, too, it helps to have lucid moments that others mistake for delusions.”This lyrical memoir is written with a strange mix of philosophy, religion, symbolism, and an adult's remembrance of his childhood: family, Havana, and the politics of the day. It is serious, touching, beautiful, funny, and entertaining. I loved it.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Subtitled “Confessions of a Cuban Boy,” this memoir first caught my eye because of the great title, then because it was written by one of the boys separated from his family during the early reign of Fidel Castro, during the Operation Pedro Pan exodus, an attempt to save children of those deemed against the Revolution, those most in danger.The book almost lost me when the author along with other little boys, cruel as children often can be, started torturing lizards, symbolic of much to come. I expected a typical memoir but that is certainly not what I got. The writing is not linear, the author speaks to us readers directly, and frequently gives hints of what is to come, promises to tell us more later. The style is quirky and was a bit disconcerting to me until I gave myself over to the author's story.The child, Carlos, most often refers to his father as Louis XVI, as his father claimed to be in a former life, and his mother as Marie Antoinette, although she did not claim to be a reincarnation. His father was a judge and an attorney, one of the privileged ones under Batista. Childhood in Havana is painted in pictures vibrant and astounding, family and friends all coming to life. Very little of the book deals with Carlos or his family after Carlos was separated from his brother, the only person he knew in the United States, as soon as they landed.Some examples of the author's style of prose:“Crotons of all kinds. Giant philodendrons. Caladiums. Flowers. Palms in all shapes and sizes. Especially royal palms, so tall, so regal. So Cuban. Palms that pierce my heart and entrails to this very day.”“I was one of the lucky ones. Fidel couldn't obliterate me as he did all the other children, slicing off their heads over so slowly, and replacing them with fearful, slavish copies of his own. New heads held in place by two bolts, like Boris Karloff's in Frankenstein, one bolt forged from fear, the other from illusion.”“If Adam and Eve hadn't screwed up so badly, and their children had been able to play in the Garden of Eden, they would have laughed just like we did that day, when we threw rocks at one another on the edge of the turquoise sea.”“To understand Fidel you have to be out of your mind. To live with the memories, too, it helps to have lucid moments that others mistake for delusions.”This lyrical memoir is written with a strange mix of philosophy, religion, symbolism, and an adult's remembrance of his childhood: family, Havana, and the politics of the day. It is serious, touching, beautiful, funny, and entertaining. I loved it.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Cuba...land of tangerine sunsets and turquoise waves...steamy heat and voodoo curses. I loved reading the memoir of a judge's son who is close to my age but who grew up in very different circumstances. Carlos's first 11 years were the carefree days of a child of means. Days of family gatherings, bike riding, swimming, movies, and tormenting the ubiquitous lizards -- minus half a star for that! The revolution is hinted at from time to time, and like a bruise one can't help touching to see if it still hurts, Carlos returns over and over to those tumultuous times that shaped his years of childhood until he was "expelled from paradise."14,000 children left Cuba without their parents in the early 1960s because they didn't need the visas that took up to a year to obtain. The idea was that the parents would soon follow them to a reunion in the U.S. These youngsters left their country and families carrying only two sets of clothes, a hat, and a book..."the only hint of mercy." It was an abrupt transition from life in Cuba to the U.S. Almost four years in orphanages and foster homes passed until Carlos and his brother Tony were able to join their mother in Chicago:..."As the train began to roll past the steel mills and oil refineries on the South Side of Chicago, it seemed we had passed through the gates of hell. We saw acres and acres of smokestacks shooting out flames, huge twisting labyrinths of pipes, mazes of twisting stairs, giant spheres, and colossal storage tanks. But it was the flames that make me reel. Big, noisy flames. Balls of flame. Jets. Plumes. Flares. Soft, dancing flames that swayed in the wind and made the chimneys look like giant candles at Satan's dinner table. Fountains of fire. Satan's Versailles." (195)Carlos writes with pathos and passion about his memories of his homeland - a country that is part of him but still a place he will not visit while it is under the oppressive Castro regime. I guess in his case it's true that you can't go home again.
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