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Everyone Leaves Paperback – November 27, 2012
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The Amazon Book Review
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Question: What inspired you to write Everyone Leaves?
Wendy Guerra: My parents' deaths, both in 2004, and the disappearance of a generation that is dying much sooner than its predecessors. The rediscovery of my childhood diary and the need to tell my life story through a girl in this fictitious socialist reality. I'd never known a book that spoke about life under socialism in a child's voice. In my childhood, Cuba was a place where parents had no say about whether you handled firearms at 13, or if you went to school by yourself in the countryside, or whether you aspired to university studies. Parents didn't control their children's destinies. So I decided to graft a story on this non-reality in a place that isn't what it seems, about a diaspora that every generation has had to deal with in its own way. Everyone Leaves is my exorcism from childhood and from my "inxile."
Q: Your narrator, Nieve, would be roughly the same age as you are today. Do you have anything in common?
WG: I used my own real diary as the spine for this novel, working in other stories in a kind of Aristotelian weave. I choose my own memories of what happened during that time. They were very tough times of silence and farewells. When I reread my diary, I decided to lower the heat a little bit, to be a little less judgmental than I'd been as a girl. Kids are usually sharper than any politician. They can tell what's going on and judge from a very honest perspective.
Q: Do you still keep a personal diary? If so, does it provide content for your fiction?
WG: Usually I write in my diary every day and then revise it, go over it with a more critical and literary rigor. Later, it becomes a novel.
Q: Why did you decide to write about Cuba?
WG: For me, what's important is that Cuba's story be told. Our lives--which have been lived in isolation, put on hold for 50 years, displaced from the markets, and incubated without capitalist references--are as complex as magic.
Q: What other books would you recommend to Amazon customers who are interested in Cuban life and history?
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Top Customer Reviews
Her life is colorful and the book is engaging, but oddly missing are events outside of Nieve's life - the book does not describe what does not directly involve Nieve. Obviously, the austerity of life in Cuba form the ever-present backdrop of Nieve's life, however. The repressive atmosphere, in which no-one can be trusted and the penalties for ideological independence are severe, affect Nieve's life. For example, Nieve and her mother feel most comfortable talking to each other while standing in the lagoon or ocean, so that no-one can evesdrop. Books are hidden out of sight and even young students get into serious trouble for reading banned literature.Read more ›
Let's be sure not to misinterpret the overriding import of Nieve's young life. The message is not fear of the future, but unself-conscious indifference. If your world is clearly not the kind of place where good things happen to someone like you, don't expect miracles. Disappointment is the one source of pain over which Nieve has some control, and whether or not she is aware of it, she exercises it almost flawlessly.
With the exception of a one-time-only sexual interlude, Nieve's life is drab, dreary, and totally devoid of energizing sustenance. But Nieve does not complain.Read more ›
These are the questions behind "Everyone Leaves," Cuban writer Wendy Guerra's semi-autobiographical novel of growing up in Cuba in the 1970s and 1980s, translated by Achy Obejas. It tells the story of Nieve ("Snow") Guerra, who watches her family and those of her friends fracture and fall apart under the weight of a deadening communist regime. Most eventually leave the country for Miami or Europe (everyone leaves, she keeps reminding herself); some "leave" or disappear within the country.
Nieve is an artist who gradually stops painting. She is also a survivor, due in no small part to the diary she begins to keep as a young child and maintains through adolescence and into young adulthood. The journal entries, in fact, are the structure of the book, beginning as brief if pointed and intelligent observations and continuing as longer entries as Nieve grows older. And there are gaps, which we can fill based on what we know and what we will know.
Through her diary, we follow Nieve from the small city of Cienfuegos to the mountains and finally to Havana. We watch her experience her parents' separation, their custody battle over her, her life with a brutal, alcoholic father, and finally a reunion with her mother. We see her grow as a young artist, and we watch as she continues to behave very much the independent in a society that demands conformity and acquiescence. We observe her friends gradually leave, and her acceptance of her isolation.
The diaries are important.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The description in which this is written makes really feel you are part of this book and its stories. Very well written.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
It begins more or less interesting, but almost immediately the author is lost in her own plot. There is no enough coherence in the story, specially in the second half. Not worthy.Published 22 months ago by S. Soto
Everyone Leaves traces the Cuban revolution through the eyes of a young woman growing up in Cuba as part of the government-persecuted literati and arts community. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Katy Brown
I did not like this book at all. It was hard to follow and had no significant value. I think writing about the difficult times in the 70's in Cuba could have been better written.Published 23 months ago by Kathy Clarke
Set in Cuba in the 1980s and 90s as the revolution eats its some of its children, this presumably autobiographical diary evokes the spirit of Jannette Walls with "The Glass... Read morePublished on June 7, 2014 by Michael Replogle
Written as a series of diary entries by a young girl - over a period of time. Very depressing in it's depiction of Castro's Cuba and the sociological impact of some of their... Read morePublished on March 3, 2014 by Readerrover
There is a general rule of thumb that if you make it (100-your age) pages into a book, and you aren't captivated, you should give up, given that life and the number of books you'll... Read morePublished on January 15, 2014 by KH1
This book shares some of the struggles of living in Cuba. There is little freedom, food, security or privacy. No one can be trusted!Published on December 23, 2013 by Kindle Customer