"Dreaming in Cuba" by Cristina Garcia

"Dreaming in Cuba" by Cristina Garcia

This is a beautifully written novel. It is about three generations of women; the grandmother, Celia; the daughters, Felicia and Lourdes; and the granddaughter, Pilar. The novel takes place in Cuba and in The United States. It jumps back and forth in time, linear at times, but not consistently. It is written in third person omniscient with some first person narratives told through letters.

Celia del Pino is a Cuban woman in her late 60's who supports Cuba and its revolution. While her husband, Jorge, is a supporter of the American form of government. Jorge leaves his wife in Cuba and goes to live with his daughter Lourdes in America while seeking medical treatment for stomach cancer. He dies, never returning to Cuba, which haunts Celia, never again having seen her husband.

Celia's daughter Lourdes, who has fled from Cuba and moved to Brooklyn, opens up a bakery. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and her daughter, Pilar. Pilar is a teenager with a punk style and rebellious attitude. Although Pilar rebels against her mother, she manages to retain a connection to her grandmother in Cuba. Celia is afraid that her granddaughter will lose her Cuban heritage while living in the U.S. Celia's other daughter Felicia, lives in Cuba and becomes mentally unstable and practices the religion of Santeria.

This novel took me on a journey of highs and lows. It is a portrait of the dysfunctional relationship between mother and child. Celia and her daughters struggle for a balance in their different ideals and beliefs but never reach a fully resolved medium. The history of Cuba propels Celia to try and maintain a familial connection, while the cultural and political shackles tear her family apart. The main themes present in this novel are cultural and generational differences, forced and self-imposed exile, dysfunctional relationships, mental illness and political tension to name a few.

This book is available on Amazon. I think I read the entire book in a Latin accent in my mind. The words were easy, silky and rhythmic. It was as if I were reading a novel living in a poetic whirlwind. With lyrical oxymoron, the words flowed from the page with a literary cadence. The rhapsodic flow seduced me and I wanted more words to read and absorb, to practice and refine my Latin accent. There are some beautifully written sentences that are so rich, that my dislike for the structure of the novel with its jumping of location, time and place became tolerable. The narrative content is not compelling. I did not walk away with some new found enlightenment. But I did reach the end with an enhanced appreciation for storytelling. If I could sum this book into one word it would be... dreamy. I would highly recommend this book.