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Take Me with You: A Secret Search for Family in a Forbidden Cuba Paperback – November 17, 2009

4.8 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Take Me With You really does take you with it, on an unforgettable journey, not just to Cuba -- a forbidding place unlike any other on earth -- but also to that mysterious, nameless part of the human soul that yearns for home and for lasting bonds with kin. At once gritty and transcendent, this is one travelogue that soars. Frías lays bare his heart and in the process exposes the Cuba few tourists or journalists ever get to see: a labyrinth of ruins haunted by the ghosts of those who escaped from it." -- Carlos Eire, National Book Award-winning author of Waiting for Snow in Havana

"Carlos Frías pulls off a stunner. Take Me With You is more than a memoir. It's the immigrant's tale made whole -- leavened with compassion, spiced by family secrets, and driven by the hope that what was once broken can actually be pieced back together again. Yes, it's a portrait of Cuba today. But even better, Take Me With You holds up a mirror to America. Peer into it: I guarantee you'll find a piece of your family, your father, yourself here, too." -- S. L. Price, senior writer at Sports Illustrated and author of Pitching Around Fidel

"[Take Me With You] is a poignant personal journey in a superb debut book." -- The Indianapolis Star

"Take Me With You is a compelling narrative of a country that holds a strangely significant place in the minds of Americans." -- St. Petersburg Times

"Vividly descriptive and highly emotional, Frias' account will please those who know Cuban history, as well as the uninformed." -- Rocky Mountain News

"Frias's writing is emotional, his descriptions fresh." -- The Washington Post Book Review

"If you're Cuban-American, his story is yours. And if you're not Cuban-American, perhaps there's even more reason to dive into this honest insider's guide to the Cuban experience." -- Lydia Martin, The Miami Herald.

"It wouldn't matter if Frías was Irish or Italian or Martian. This is a compelling story about family. In its way, it's reminiscent of Rick Bragg's book about his mother, All Over but the Shoutin'. Like that book, it's a great story, well told. Frías's writing is elegant." -- William McKeen, Creative Loafing

"His very moving book, Take Me With You, reinforces my sense that by far the most enduring legacy of the Cuban revolution 50 years ago is the divided family." -- Lucy Ash of BBC Radio's "Outlook".

"With his sensitive, provocative, and mature portrait of the island his parents came from, Carlos Frías is in the forefront of la nueva nostalgia cubana." -- Tom Miller, author of Trading With the Enemy: A Yankee Travels Through Castro's Cuba

About the Author

Carlos Frías is a natural observer who spent his formative years as a journalist traveling the South, primarily as a sportswriter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. This "Southern Fried Cuban" has known the country on an intimate level.

Today a columnist and features writer for The Palm Beach Post, Frías says he is "assembled in America from Cuban parts." He grew up just north of the Dade-Broward County "border," born of Cuban exiles but raised among the "gringos" as Little Havana glittered in the distance.

Fully bilingual, he travels easily between those worlds. In 2006, he journeyed through Cuba, where he reported the basis for "Take Me With You," a five-part series of first-person stories about his family for which he was named the Best of Cox Newspapers Writer of the Year.

The judges called the series "storytelling that raises journalism to the level of art."

In 2012, he won three awards from the Society For Features Journalism for his work as a features writer and occasional columnist for The Palm Beach Post. One winning story on a family dealing with early-onset Alzheimer'swas republished across the country. While he was a sportswriter, the Associated Press Sports Editors awarded him eight top-10 awards in a span of five years for his work on in-depth features and investigative stories, including a first-place finish in 2007 for a story on former pitcher Major League pitcher Jeff Reardon.

Frías resides in Pembroke Pines, Fla., with his three daughters.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; 1 edition (November 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416559523
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416559528
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,075,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Beverly G. Browning on May 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Take Me with You is a memoir like no other. Author Carlos Frias sneaks the reader into the dark decay of forbidden Cuba with a whispered agreement: Reader must acknowledge the grave danger in which his Cuban relatives have placed themselves by being candid. Further, we must help protect them by never insisting that names or descriptions of meetings be entirely accurate. Any book that draws the reader into a life-and-death contract from the get-go, promises to deliver a riveting read. Take Me with You makes good on that promise.

Frias, an award-winning journalist and the American-born son of Cuban exiles living in south Florida, snaps up an assignment to cover Cuba during Castro's illness in 2006. For him, this is more than an assignment; it's an opportunity to discover the mythical Cuba spun from the collective nostalgia, heartbreak, and personal secrets of his parents and their community. It's a homecoming in a place he never actually lived. Posing as a wide-eyed tourist while Cuba is ejecting all journalists, Frias bluffs his way into the country from Cancun for twelve days that will change his life.

Take Me with You is the work of a master storyteller, and it's a good thing. This is a complex book: one part memoir, one part history book, one part travelogue, and one part love letter to Frias's parents. It's flawlessly written to capture the heart-pounding danger of his mission, the despair and hope of Cuba's people, and the passionate love of family separated by miles of ocean and years of time. Take Me with You is breathtaking. Frias just set the new standard for memoir.
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Format: Hardcover
Through Carlos Frias' heart-felt scribing, I stowed away to Cuba on this amazing journey. His descriptive writing truly brings the smells of Havana's streets and Cuban coffee into your home. This is a must read for anyone who has ever wondered what daily life is like behind the Cuban curtain. I wait with earnest for Carlos' next gift to the literary world.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a well-written and very moving book. The newly-developing connections between family members across a 90 mile body of water give poignant life to "Take Me With You."

The secondary story, and to my mind, the most important part, is that the book lets a breathe of fresh air into America's view of a sealed country. I was particularly struck by the two-faced nature of Castro's Cuba. The Cuba seen by tourists is a stage set.

The houses on Elian Gonzale's street are painted and repaired so news casts shown in the rest of the world will present a nice image of Cuba. The infrastructure and houses in the neighborhoods of the ordinary folks are crumbling and decaying. The facade continues with churches, hotels and restaurants that only tourists are allowed to visit.

The deprivations in terms of meat, medical supplies and adequate modern sewer systems is inexcusable, and Frias's expressed need of protecting his Cuban cousins by using fictive names is tragic. The neighborhood watch that squeals on its neighbors and the author's fear that his journals will be found in his suitcase are chilling.

This book by a Cuban-American will make the reader more appreciative of life in the United States and of the resilience of every day Cubans who must "go along to get along."

This book is an excellent companion piece to "This is Cuba" by Ben Corbett. Both books will leave you amazed and angry.

Kim Burdick
Stanton, Delaware
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Format: Paperback
In my early 30s I lived for awhile in Miami not far from Calle Ocho and now I live in Tampa (also a Cuban enclave) and for years I have heard stories of Cuba...stories in bits and pieces about communism repression, ration cards, Old American cars, forced attendance at demonstrations, Comité de Defensa de la Revolución(CDR), flights of freedom, Elian González, Che Guevara, the beaches, hardship and poverty as well as some pretty heart-wrenching immigration stories. However, the stories have always come out in bits and pieces and I always felt I was missing so much of the story. While I yearned for a more complete story, I understood it was a delicate subject and have refrained from asking too many questions.

Well, Carlos Frias in his memoir really painted a whole and complete story about Cuba, the Cuban experience, as well as the Cuban American experience. An amazing story and a great insight. It was also a wonderful read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This memoir is the most unabashedly emotional I've ever read. At times, I thought it was too emotional ( therefore: four stars not five); but it hooked me despite--or maybe because of--the author's heartfelt writing.

This is a true story of family, known and unknown previously, left behind in Cuba. But, of course, it's more. It's really the story of Cuba since Castro. And, before Castro, too. All is told through family members' stories. ( And, it's a huge exended family!) Because this is such a personal tale, we feel along with the author, an American born here into a Cuban-American family.

The author, in a twelve day trip to Cuba, cannot decide whether his heart belongs to his Cuban family or to his family in the U.S. ( He has a very hard time not getting enmeshed in his Cuban family's lives. They need him, and they idolize him. And, vice-versa, too. ) A good deal of Frias' sadness in Cuba is a kind of "survivor guilt", a feeling that he has it so good here, and they, in Cuba, are struggling. There's only so much he can do!

It's clear that the visit with his relatives and to know Cuba from a non-tourist viewpoint has changed the author. Maybe it's changed us, the readers, too.
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