From Publishers Weekly
The final days of a paralyzed stroke victim provide the occasion for a poignant set of immigrant's reflections in Medina's latest. Amadeo Terra spends days and nights in his Catholic nursing home in Tampa silently raging against the neglect of his grown children and the shortcomings (and even brutality) of various staff caretakers. In between episodes of internalized anger, Terra relives his path to becoming a master cigar roller in Cuba, his emigration and work in Tampa's Ibor City cigar factories and his troubled marriage. Medina (The Return of Felix Nogarra
) crafts a complex, rewarding novel out of a static setting. Passages in which Terra relives his romantic past, uses his bodily functions in retaliatory fashion or rails against the emptiness of life in Florida each have a particular texture. The darker final chapters work less well, as Medina ineffectively blurs Terra's relationship with his abusive father with ambulatory fantasies and Terra's final decline. But Medina's graceful use of the third person, into which he folds a multiplicity of perspectives with real lyricism, makes Terra seem to open outward into the world--as someone to whom things happen (in paralysis and before), but also as someone who asserts his humanity in whatever circumstances he finds himself. Medina skates perfectly between Terra's specificity and the universality of his plight, making Terra, his flaws and his struggles all the more compelling.
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Medina's novel is a searing, bitterly humorous analysis of a life. Paralyzed by a stroke, a Cuban-born cigar-factory worker is confined to a Florida hospital. Virtually isolated from the ebb and flow of everyday society, he has as his only companions a cantankerous nurse, an indifferent orderly, and an annoying nun. Reflecting on his past, Amadeo Terra is compelled by both his physical immobility and his spiritual malaise to review his life in ruthlessly honest terms. Introducing his youthful alter ego, Terra recalls his years in Cuba as a master cigar roller, his failures as a thoroughly self--absorbed husband and father, and his desperate flight from Cuba. Adding up the sum parts of his life, he is forced to confront the futility of his present circumstances. Margaret FlanaganCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved