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Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy Paperback – Bargain Price, June 7, 2011
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—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A very intelligent and sensitive bird's-eye view of a Cuban exile's boyhood experiences in America . . . eloquent and moving."
Top Customer Reviews
The title stems from the author-as-child's need to kill Carlos in order to become the accepted Americanized version of himself. Hence, he becomes Charles, and even Chuck. But it goes deeper than that. As dictated by circumstances, as well as Carlos' dissociative disorder (of course, this is undefinable as a child - no child goes around diagnosing himself as a dissociator - it's just one's nature), Carlos remains relegated to Charles' inner world, of the past. Charles refers to himself in the third person and adds that he'd rather "forget about all of that Cuban stuff." The author's life in Cuba as a child was happy, and normal. Suddenly, his life turned upside down, he is now inside out, learning a new culture, and being shuffled from one foster home to another.
One foster home in particular was quite traumatic for Carlos, a home he called Palace Ricardo, which was run by a Cuban couple who once ran a school in Havana. Wryly nicknamed Lucy and Ricky, they were sociopaths who denied decent food, clothing, shelter and any of life's most basic pleasures to the children in their care.Read more ›
Learning to Die in Miami has an overwhelming story. The book ends and the first thing the reader wants to say to the author is hurry up, write the next one. Don't stop now.
I recommend this book very highly.
So many suffer because of the evil doers of Cuba's current government. This book, by telling the story of one child so beautifully and clearly, gives the reader a tiny sense of the enormity of the crimes of these bastards.
The opening chapter grabs you immediately. Geometry tries to control what is not controllable, the emotions of a bereft child.
On you swim into the book. The writing is spectacular. All of it. I am so angry on one page. Then I am heartbroken. Suddenly, what is this? I am laughing. I am alone with no one to impress and I am laughing out loud. Then, just as suddenly I am swept away by something so endearing and touching, it's almost unbearable.
The author makes real and palpable what the child felt. How does a child, or anyone, make sense out of a world where love can make everything better, where superhuman acts of sacrifice exist, yet where prejudice or lack of caring and worse is just as easily a part of life?
This book is patterned similarly to Waiting for Snow in Havana. Each chapter has a theme and variations, then returns at its close bringing you home. POW!
This is an honest book. Not too many could write with such honesty about themselves.
In this book Carlos describes dying many times. But the implication is that to do so means each time, he came alive again. The suffering he embraces helps him to rise like a phoenix. His faith rescues him.Read more ›
But I feel I must today because I just finished Carlos Eire's latest book about his immigration experience.
Like Mr. Eire, I was born in Havana, Cuba but left my native country when I was only 3. So, unlike Mr. Eire, I have no memories of the place that is seared so deeply into my being.
Like Mr. Eire, my family came to the US with nothing except some family jewels hidden in talcum powder. These will never be sold -- our only link to our past. After being in Miami for only six months, my coma-stricken grandmother was shipped over (Fidel was no dummy; her passage was arranged with no problem) in a hospital bed. She died in the front room of our two-room rental after three months.
In Cuba we owned a sugar mill and sold the oceanfront family farm to the developers of one of Havana's most exclusive and newest suburbs.
My mother had never cooked or cleaned before 1962. Or had a job.
My father was an internist that had to start his career over again. His first job was as an orderly at a mental hospital in the middle of nowhere Texas.
Like Mr. Eire, our lives were slowly put back together but not the way the way anyone would have imagined back in 1962. No one is bitter but everyone is changed. My mom died without seeing her country ever again. But she had an MBA and taught for years. My father is 88 and has a good pension after retiring from psychiatry and teaching when he was in his early 70s. Why retire when you have a good job is what he would always say.
So I connect with Mr. Eire's writing in a very special way.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Funny, Funny, and very interesting understanding of the forgotten issues of political refugees.Published 11 days ago by Olga Dickieson
We choose this for our book group, and everyone loved it. It is very rich. There is much to be learned about growth and survival, reinventing oneself, immigrants, discrimination,... Read morePublished 17 days ago by Rosemary Pye
Carlos, I enjoyed reading your book, it was like rewinding my life 54 years ago. I came with my sister in August 1962, ( I was 12 my sister 15)same conditions as you. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Nery Fiaux
Interesting read...knowing how things are different now than they were back then.Published 1 month ago by Andres F. Lavin
It was a great follow up to Waiting for Snow in Havana. It kept my interest all the way through.Published 1 month ago by Myra Childs
After reading "Waiting for Snow in Havana," I wanted to know more about Carlos' life after leaving Cuba and coming to the United States with his brother, Tony. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Robert B.
I love both of Carlos Eire's books. Beautifully written, but not at all pretentious. He can also be very, very funny. I am waiting for the next one...Published 2 months ago by Ana Ochoa
It is refreshing to read the truth about Cuba. His answers in the back of the book should be shouted from the roof tops as truer words were never spoken. Read morePublished 3 months ago by C. D.