historical fiction | cuba | woman | politics
First published 2021
The book begins in 19th century Cuba, in a cigar factory, where we follow the story of María Isabel and how she came into possession of a copy of Les Miserables, which later plays a part in the novel. María Isabel is the first in a line of family matriarchs.
Carmen, the great-great-granddaughter of María Isabel, is a Cuban immigrant living in Miami, where she has raised her daughter, Jeanette. Jeanette wants to know more about why her mother left Cuba, but her mother is very reluctant to talk about it. We are led to believe that Carmen's rift with her family in Cuba is about politics, but by the end of the novel we find out that it is about violence against women and more about the politics of what it means to be a woman who has to navigate the brutality of a world run by men.
Jeanette is an addict, recovering from a recent stay in a rehab centre. She takes in her neighbour Gloria's daughter, Ana, when Gloria is taken away to stay in an ICE detention centre for deportation back to El Salvador. Later on in the book, Ana returns to Miami to look for Jeanette.
My Verdict: I found this book very uninteresting and pretty dull. There wasn't really any character that I could relate to. It felt like too many themes were fighting for attention and nothing was followed through to a satisfactory conclusion. It was a novel with no positivity and left me feeling very sad, which is may be the point, but it was done in a very clumsy style.
Review Award - 2/5
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I'm Louise, but you can call me Fatty. I really like to read, and then I really like to tell people about what I've read. I started this book blog to give fellow readers some great recommendations and maybe introduce them to a writer or a genre that maybe they wouldn't have discovered on their own - because that's what reading is all about!