- Hardcover: 258 pages
- Publisher: Beck & Branch Publishers (April 15, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0985403497
- ISBN-13: 978-0985403492
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 27 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,596,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Skinny Years Hardcover – April 15, 2016
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"Destined to be a classic"
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From the Author
Write what you know. That's an adage shared by most writers and one I've followed in this novel. Not surprisingly, that's led some readers to ask, "Is this story about you?" The short answer is no. But like most things in life, the full answer is more complicated. The characters in The Skinny Years are composites of my neighbors, family, friends, and enemies growing up in Miami during the 1960s. A few of my personal experiences are woven into the story as well. The result is a mashup of the real and the imagined, from the past and from the present, concocted into a narrative that's hopefully interesting. In other words, it's fiction.
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Top customer reviews
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For Skinny, and eventually a million others, the world turned upside down when Castro came into power. “Skinny grew silent, remembering his life in Cuba...his bedroom full of toys and games...the sumptuous meals prepared by their cook...swimming whenever he wanted in their private pool...the constant attention from Imelda.” I don’t mourn the loss of privilege for an entire class, but my heart goes out to Skinny, who is often hungry and ill-clothed in Miami, an outsider trying to fit into a new world. Over and over, his small story illuminates the large one.
A few years later, enter testosterone—which gives Skinny “the unshakable conviction that all adults had been placed on earth with a single purpose: to thwart his will and make his life miserable in every way possible.”
There are many delightful scenes in the book. I am especially fond of Abuela, Skinny’s outspoken grandmother. Bigoted and slow to adjust to life in the U.S. she is one of those old women who love to speak the truth, and to shock the rest of us. “Well, you better get used to bad weather m’hija,” she tells her daughter, after a hurricane and a tussle with the adolescent Skinny. “Because with this one starting to grow hair on his huevos, that’s not the last storm we’re going to see.”
Abuela is often caustic, but her eye on the family is wonderfully clear. So is the author’s, as he illuminates, with grace and wit, both one boy’s passage and the complex story of Cuba’s exiles.
I’ve read many, many books about Cuba, wanting to understand more and to specifically understand the main two different perspectives about the revolution from those who lived it. As I compare this fictionalized account of a Cuban family leaving for America to all of the non-fiction I have read, it seems to be reality based and consistent with what I have learned, while helping the reader experience for herself, both the cognitive and the emotional depth of such an experience. I also found it to be an interesting picture of psychosocial development of a young boy growing into a man in these circumstances.
Additionally, this is just a plain great read whether you have an interest in Cuba or not, but what a great coincidence to have it out as the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba is opening up. Very exciting. I haven’t been able to figure out which “side” of the story the author agrees with. For me that’s part of the beauty of this book. It’s not a political rant about “sides”. It’s a fascinating description of one person’s experience. As such, it has very effectively broadened my understanding not only of Cuba, but of human nature itself.
Highly recommended. Five star read.