Carlos Eire's memoir of his childhood in Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy explodes off the page with the smells, sights, and sounds of the tropics. But the most interesting aspect of his story is the story of the Revolution from a boy too young to know exactly what's happening.
Just nine-years-old when Castro and his fellow revolutionaries overthrew Batista, Eire watched as relatives were arrested, property confiscated, and rights lost. Naturally, it was a confusing time for the boy, as his whole world was turned upside-down by factors both visible, such as militiamen, and invisible. "I woke up to the fact that something had gone awfully wrong with the world that day," writes Eire. "We stood there for a while, all of us, asking questions, complaining... it was the sheer shock of encountering a stupid rule that kept us there, loitering under the marquee." The rule? The movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was suddenly off-limits to minors.
There is no love lost between the author--today a history and religious studies professor at Yale--and the man he calls a "ruthless dictator masquerading as a humanitarian."
Waiting for Snow in Havana is a cry from the heart of a boy torn from family, country, and way of life. Eire was 11 at the time he was shipped off to the US to live with strangers, and the fire still burns in him at the injustice of it. This fury propels his memoir, which is by turns cloying, sentimental, repetitious, and meandering. (Eire can, and does, go on for paragraphs about the shape of clouds. Federico Lorca he is not.) But readers looking for insight into one of the century's most "successful" revolutions will come away from Waiting for Snow with a fresh perspective on a crucial period of Cuban, and world, history. --Shawn Conner, Amazon.ca [via]