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Child of the Revolution: Growing up in Castro's Cuba Paperback – April 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Born in 1959, journalist Garcia spent his first 12 years in Cuba, plenty of time to pile up grievances against the Communist regime. His parents owned a small haberdashery whose business dried up with the gradual suppression of commerce after the revolution, until it was taken over by the state. When his parents applied to emigrate, his father was sent to a labor camp to cut sugar cane, and the family was meticulously divested of their belongings before being allowed to leave. Garcia's is an emblematic story of the dispossession and exile of Cuba's middle class, leavened with bittersweet reminiscences of his warmly convivial extended family, which comprised both Communist officials and disaffected partisans of the prerevolutionary past. As well, it's a study of the downside of Cuba's revolution—skimpy food rations, endless queues for shoddy goods, beady-eyed busybodies in the neighborhood Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, all justified by strident propaganda in the classroom and media. Garcia's rancorous score-settling with communism can be intrusive; "it's not a very revolutionary thing to do, but... even communists need toilet paper," he gloats about a common unauthorized use for the works of Lenin. But he does offer an intriguing corrective to romanticized accounts of socialist Cuba. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Garcia was 12 years old in 1971 when his family at last received permission to leave Castro's Cuba, and in a series of immediate, present-tense, first-person vignettes, he tells how it was from the child's bewildered viewpoint. He remembers the idiocy of the indoctrination (he wants to be "a good little communist," but his parents are not good revolutionaries, and that scares him); the hardship when his father is sent to labor camp to cut sugarcane for nearly three years; the boredom of Castro's speeches (six hours without even a toilet break). The kid wants to listen to the Beatles, not revolutionary songs, and his idea of summer camp is not picking lemons for the revolution. His sharp childhood memories are mixed with adult commentary. Looking back now, the propaganda feels "Orwellian," and being forced to leave his close-knit extended family remains painful. All the detail sometimes gets repetitive, but the young boy's coming-of-age brings the forced-immigration story up close. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin (April 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1741148529
  • ISBN-13: 978-1741148527
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,289,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By GeoffP on May 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
Almost forty years ago my wife escaped from Cuba as a young child, with her parents and younger brother. Since then, she has often recounted the trauma of this escape, and the struggles her family faced in rebuilding their lives in Spain - and subsequently here in Australia.

As she read this book she was astonished at the uncanny similarity between the author's experiences and those of her own family. Luis's story rekindled many distant, yet defining, memories, sights, smells, and feelings. To learn that her own story has been 'shared' and now 'told' (almost exactly!) was both a surprise, and perhaps more importantly, a visible comfort.

There seems to be a growing amount of misinformation about the Cuban people today, but as someone who has heard this true story (for over twenty years now) I recommend this narrative as a clear and accurate part of the "true story" of Cuba. The horrors, fears and terrible emotional abuse revealed here may shock some readers, but they are NOT exaggerated. (My wife's father almost died in the Cuban labour camps after seeking permission to leave.) People who experience REAL trauma rarely embellish 'their story' - because sympathy without understanding does not bring true healing. (There's a big difference between emotion and community.) A glipse into the author's own sense of community is seen in moving dedication of the book - "to those who choose to live in exile."

Luis's style is warm and engaging; he has a sharp eye for those little details that "set the trees swaying" in a narrative. He is also a shrewd observer and recorder of human nature - with an almost 'Dickensian' ability to highlight those easily-overlooked character traits that define individuals. I remember my wife laughing as she read his vivid account of that delightfully Cuban "nothing is impossible" attitude. She read the passage, smiled with recognition, and said, "That's EXACTLY how they are."
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Henry L. Gomez on February 28, 2007
Format: Paperback
Luis M. Garcia is a gifted Cuban-Australian (you read that correctly, Cuban-Australian not Cuban-American) author. In his book Child of the Revolution we see what it was like to grow up in the 60s in Cuba. Since it's told from the perspective of a young boy, the story is reminiscent of the excellent book "Waiting for Snow in Havana" by Carlos Eire. Where the books are different is that Eire saw the changes from pre-Revolutionary Cuba to Revolutionary Cuba and describes them in great detail. Garcia, on the other hand, was born in 1959, the same year Castro took power, and thus had no knowledge of that pre-Castro Cuba other than what his parents told him. In fact Garcia describes that period in his life as "a battle between Castro and my parents for the mind of an 11 year old." With this book and his blog Luis M. Garcia proves that Castro's critics aren't just in Miami. Cubans have been scattered around the globe thanks to Castro's brutal dictatorship.

Highly recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ana E. Spielberg on May 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
Having been born in Cuba the same year as the author (1959) but leaving 6 years before he did, I got a glimpse into what might have been for me had we stayed a little longer while I was old enough to form ideas of what was happening in Cuba at that time. There are times I have felt cheated out of my Heritage because I came to the United States so young but after reading this book a small window was opened for me to look into the world my family was forced to leave behind. It also leaves me thankful that I am lucky enough to be here and grateful for the Cuba in me that will never be forgotten.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gus Venegas on June 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is by Cuban Australian author Luis Garcia, who tells us of his family and of his coming of age under the first few years of the Revolution in Banes, a small rural town in eastern Cuba. Although lacking a perspective of life before Castro coming to power in 1959, the author tells his story in a colorful and humorous way. His description of a communist's relative winning an apparently rigged beauty contest is hilarious. The fear of been set up for a black market buy of pork meat from a government soldier is evident. His narrative of his parents losing their mom and pop tailoring business in 1968 is painful. Life after that seems to get harder as his parents become government employees at the newly confiscated industries of Cuba, whether mom sorting coffee beans or dad at a factory. Garcia goes on to describe the last few months before leaving Cuba for Spain (later to Australia), when his dad was required to be an agricultural worker for plantation master Castro prior to exiting Cuba. I found the book easy to read, enjoyable, and descriptive of life by a typical family in Castro's Cuba.
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