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A Miami nursing home is no place for Unica Aveyano, as she vociferously reminds her daughter-in-law at every opportunity. Although she is ill with terminal cancer and terribly frail, she cannot bear the thought of spending one more night wandering the halls or sitting by the cracked windows. Miraculously, she finds her way out the door, across a four-lane highway, and into the ocean. When she is rescued by her male nurse, she gravely tells him that she was led there by a pack of wild angels. Her past is suddenly more alive to her than the present, and she spends hours immersed in memories of her Cuban childhood, her marriage, and her son, a bisexual artist who refused to emigrate with them. She has no time for her mournful husband, who is sick at the thought of being left behind. Mestre-Reed (The Lazarus Rumba, 1999) is a lyric novelist of uncommon power, creating a memorable portrait of a woman wracked by longing and memory yet fearlessly embracing her impending death. Joanne Wilkinson
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“A powerful, funny, resonant tale of one extraordinary woman and the many lives she graces and ruins. Única Aveyano is as poignant and compelling and concentratedly Cubana as they come. She is mother to us all.”—Cristina Garcia, author of Monkey Hunting and Dreaming in Cuban
“Poetic and daring. . . . Mestre-Reed is a masterful observer.” —Francisco Goldman, author of The Ordinary Seaman
“Beneath the surface of Mestre-Reed’s prose there is a turbulent exchange between flesh and spirit, between free will and the caprice of fate. The Second Death of Única Aveyano unfolds like a dream, charged by lust and by sorrow, and fraught with the perils of an ulterior logic.” —David Hollander, author of L.I.E.