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15 Reviews
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beutiful fictional documentation of historical conumdrum
I was very dissappointed to read a recent review from an reader in W. VA, I believe, referring to the lack of plot and character development in Obejas' "Days of Awe." The book is, in fact, a historical documentation, beautifully portrayed through the difficult realizations of a young woman with regard to the rich, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic complexity that...
Published on February 6, 2002

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
DAYS OF AWE is written beautifully, the work of a skilled author. An enormous amount of research had to have gone into this novel, and it shows. There are multiple sets of historical detail, any one set of which would have been sufficient for a compelling manuscript.
First, there is the background of life in Cuba before Fidel Castro came to power. There is the...
Published on October 31, 2001 by HeyJudy


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beutiful fictional documentation of historical conumdrum, February 6, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Days of Awe (Hardcover)
I was very dissappointed to read a recent review from an reader in W. VA, I believe, referring to the lack of plot and character development in Obejas' "Days of Awe." The book is, in fact, a historical documentation, beautifully portrayed through the difficult realizations of a young woman with regard to the rich, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic complexity that all Cubans must face with regard to their cultural identity. I, personally, was awed by this booked that so lovelingly and gently depicts a story that touches on the cultural identity of the Island of Cuba, rather than its political confusion and turmoil. Obejas manages to take us on a reflective journey, maintaining a clear through line, that may not be linear, but certainly carefully crafted, with characters that personify the very essence that is the diverse and complicated result of Cuba's wealth of humanity and cultural history.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, October 31, 2001
By 
HeyJudy "heyjudy" (East Hampton, NY USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Days of Awe (Hardcover)
DAYS OF AWE is written beautifully, the work of a skilled author. An enormous amount of research had to have gone into this novel, and it shows. There are multiple sets of historical detail, any one set of which would have been sufficient for a compelling manuscript.
First, there is the background of life in Cuba before Fidel Castro came to power. There is the conflict of those who made their escape from Fidel's Cuba and the report of life in Cuba today. And there is the story of the life of the Cuban immigrant to the United States. All of these subplots are revealed skillfully by the author.
Additionally, there is the far lesser known history of the "Marranos," the Jews of Medieval Spain who pretended to become Christians to escape the Inquisition. Five centuries later, some of these Marranos yet have descendants who are practicing, still in hiding, their version of the Jewish religion. Some of those persecuted in 1492 made their ways to Cuba--even on the ships of Columbus--and the father of the heroine of this novel is descended from one of these very refugees.
So this is a book that comes close to greatness. The main characters never succeed in engaging the reader, however. And, ultimately, the story arc itself seems pointless. Still, the virtue of DAYS OF AWE is in the details.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an "encanto" of a book!, October 1, 2001
By 
This review is from: Days of Awe (Hardcover)
"Revolutions happen, I'm convinced, because intuition tells us we're meant for a greater world (a better life) ... I've got my own revolution," -- so begins Alejandra San Jose, the novel's narrator, and Achy Obejas in the opening lines of this literary feast, as writer and storyteller bring their stories to life.
Obejas, at one point in her paragraphs, enlightens her uninformed readers with the awareness that the "Days of Awe" (the title of her book) refer(s) to the calendar span of time between the Jewish Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement); and, although the novel is filled with religious and Cuban Revolutionary references, I have had NO CHOICE in my interpretation of the title as, more importantly, giving reference to Alejandra's life - the span of days from her timely and important, significant birth (New Year's Day - January 1st) to her own present-day "atonement" for her sin of having turned her back on her other/Cuban self and life. A betrayal which has led to an ongoing internal struggle and exhausting search for an identity -- "an overwhelming feeling produced by that which is grand, sublime."
As an adult, Alejandra comes to realize that her ex(iting)-lovers are not the only ones who see a stranger when they look into her eyes; and she learns that she must first "find herself" if she is ever to "be found" (loved) by another. Thus, she goes off in search of a recognizable reflection -- an encounter with an "unmasked, vulnerable self" who dwells deeply submerged in the waters of a past that has been "echado en el olvido" of another time.
We hear Ale ask herself: "Who am I ...?" -- then answer her own question, "I'm a stranger ... when I stand alone before the mirror ... who will see my naked beauty, who will love me now?"
"Not an expert swimmer (water = emotion?), when (Ale is) submerged completely, (she recognizes) a longing to belong" -- to Cuba/to a past/to someone/to anyone!? --- to Celina(?), "the extraordinary, stunning, beautiful girl with caramel-kissed skin" -- (who teases Obejas's readers as much as she does Alejandra!) -- Perhaps Celina represents that which is unattainable/elusive/out of Ale's pre-reconciled reach --- perhaps she represents (the promise and fulfillment of) love (?) -- At the very least, she is Ale's "fantasy" .... maybe even Ale herself ... (after all, she muses loudly and clearly to an "awakening" Ale near the novel's end: "I was wondering when you'd show up.")
For Celina/Ale, once the past has been explored and a better understanding reached ..... "esta escampando" -- the gray skies are clearing up!
--------------
A thoroughly engrossing and engaging narrative -- filled with historical and religious references, and sprinkled with playful verbal (untranslatable) ponderings -- a true "encanto" of a book!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Days of Awe isn't quite awful, but it's close..., March 20, 2005
By 
Lee A. Rubinstein "rubindue" (Sherman Oaks, California USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
What started out as a (potentially) fascinating look at a Cuban exile's perspective on Cuba and the discovery of her Judaism, quicky became a novel of gratuitious sex, unanswered questions and a book sorely in need of an editor! Obejas' story might have been interesting in her head but it didn't translate well to paper. There were several bright spots, such as when she discusses linguistics and how the meaning of a word can be changed in the translation, but overall the story jumped around so much that it was difficult to tell what was going on. The main character's obsession with an older, flabby man who is married to a distant relative is pretty pathetic, and there is no motivation for her affair with him. Some characters (Seth, the boyfriend, for example) are never fully explored and seem almost an afterthought as if the editor told Obeajs, "I need more pages...write stuff!" The sex is almost disturbing, it's never wonderful and lovely. And suffice it to say that I wil never look at a glass of milk the same way again!

Days of Awe's story is all over the place, the characters aren't developed and the exploration of the writer's Judiasm is not particularly well done. All in all, put this one back on the shelf!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Verging on terrible, April 13, 2006
I've read a lot of novels by Latina writers, looking for writing that rings true about the Latina experience, writing that will finally give a voice to the millions of Latinos and Latinas in the United States, writing that will bring acceptance to Latina authors trying to make it in the literary world. Unfortunately, besides a handful of great writers like Sandra Cisneros, it doesn't seem like there's much out there. The few Latina novels that exist give you a cynical and humorless impression of the world: all men are machista, all white people are racists, all fathers are distant/abusive, etc. "Days of Awe" is a perfect example of this. It's downbeat in a meaningless, Lifetime Original Movie kind of way. Here is an author with the opportunity to discuss what it's like to be female, lesbian, Cuban, American, an exile and a Crypto-Jew. It could have been a fascinating tale, but instead it was simply bleak. Not one of the characters was likeable. The sex scenes were shocking (including a very unsexy fisting scene, among other things), irrelevant to the plot, and completely broke up what little flow the author could muster. There were loose ends that made the ending very unsatisfying. Ultimately, the most important theme in this novel is love, but you never see the love between the characters, only the tensions and the pervasive unhappiness. Unless you are Cuban or Crypto-Jewish and are looking desperately for literature that is related to your experience, don't waste your time on this.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Days of Awe, February 12, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Days of Awe (Hardcover)
I just finished reading A. Obejas "Days of Awe". What a
wonderful blend of fiction and history! As a Cuban-American I'm
happy such a fine writer as Ms.Obejas has written about the often
forgotten Cuban Jewish community. A very impressive work, I
recommend it to anyone interested in contemporary Hispanic Fiction. Or to anyone interested in the Jewish experience in
Latin America. Or to anyone at all who just wants to read a
really good story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb., May 18, 2005
This book is lyrically written, emotionally wrenching, and an excellent guide into the mysterious ways of both the Cuban Jewish community and its history as well as the Cuban Revolution. It's a challenging novel, full of poetry and questions about life and how we maneuver our way through it. It's also a deeply spiritual book, with insight about how religions work, and the true meaning of faith. As to the sex scenes, well ... they're delicious.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great story, February 9, 2002
This review is from: Days of Awe (Hardcover)
I loved Days of Awe. It's characters were compelling and it's story kept me involved to the very end. As a Cuban, I am thankful to see a writer search for the answers that have loged themselves in my mind ever since I knew to ask. it's poetic and wonderous and I am thrilled I found it
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book, October 2, 2003
By A Customer
I am a Cuban raised in Miami where there are 1 million Cubans and hardly any Cuban literature. I went to the bookstore last week after reading an article in EL NUEVO HERALD about a beautiful Spanish/English bilingual Cuban-American picturebook, DRUM, CHAVI, DRUM!/TOCA, CHAVI, TOCA! set in Little Havana, written by a Cuban (Mayra L. Dole) and illustrated by a Cuban (Tonel). To my surprise I also found Memory Mambo and Days of Awe! There are close to 40 million hispanics in the United States and just a handful of books written by Latinos about the Latino experience; it is as if we did not exist. I am greatful to have found Achy Obejas. She brillianty weaves history and fiction in such a way that Days of Awe becomes hard to put down. I am looking forward to her next book and highly recommend Days of Awe to anyone interested in history/fiction/literature and brilliant writing. I am hooked!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding what the Spanish Inquision did to the Sephardic Jews of today., March 16, 2014
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This story tells the tale of a people that were desimated by the Roman Catholic Church in the name of a Spanish king and queen and its effects even today. The problem that occur when groups of people use religion to gain power. It is in my opinion, the worst form of mind control. An evil beyond measure.
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Days of Awe
Days of Awe by Achy Obejas (Hardcover - July 31, 2001)
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