With the same passionate immediacy as Eire brought to his memoir of a Cuban boyhood, the National Book Award–winning Waiting for Snow in Havana (2002), he writes now about coming to America at age 11. The story takes readers from the journey to American itself—Eire was one of 14,000 unaccompanied refugee children in 1962’s Operation Pedro Pan—through his time in foster homes, both kind and harsh, and eventually to joining his uncle in Chicago, “where everyone came from somewhere else.” Desperate to be American, the teen wants to kill the Cuban in himself, and the personal details are funny, furious, and heartbreaking, as he keeps changing his name (to Charles, Chuck, Charlie, back to Carlos). Now a professor at Yale, he still believes “bilingualism is crap.” He remembers prejudice and ignorance not only from classmates and textbooks but also in himself. He challenges sentimental slogans: absence does not make the heart grow fonder, as his reunion with his mother shows. An essential addition to the Booklist Core Collection feature “The New Immigration Story” (2005), this is about finding home in America by letting go. --Hazel Rochman
"A mix of insightful observation, humor, and heartfelt emotion. . . . Easily one of the more impressive memoirs on the thorny issue of immigration."
"A very intelligent and sensitive bird's-eye view of a Cuban exile's boyhood experiences in America . . . eloquent and moving."