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Dreaming in Cuban

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  • Posted September 15, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia This is a novel that tells

    Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia

    This is a novel that tells the story of three generations of Cubans. Celia Almeida the matriarch who fell in love with a married Spanish lawyer (Gustavo Sierra de Armas) but had to settle for Jorge del Pino. Because of this, Jorge punishes her by leaving her alone while on business as a traveling salesman and distancing her children from her.

    Celia and Jorge have three children:

    Lourdes marries a rich man from the Cuba's high society, Rufino Puente and chooses to leave Cuba for Brooklyn where she opens the Yankee Doodle Bakery in Brooklyn, and thrives on American life, quickly embracing cold weather, capitalism, and prejudice. Her husband feels impotent because he was a rancher and liked to work outdoor Lourdes keeps a strong tie to her father - who died in Brooklyn from stomach cancer - and is frequented by his spirit. Jorge del Pino spirit assesses Lourdes on all the important decisions she makes.

    Felicia marries the good for nothing Hugo Villaverde, who gives her syphilis with her second pregnancy and is kicked out by Jorge del Pino from the family. Felicia decides to stay in Cuba and has an affinity for santeria. She killed the last of her three husbands and tried to burn the first one alive. She also burnt Graciela Moreira's hair because she though she was responsible for the death of her second husband: Ernesto Brito.

    Javier escapes to Czechoslovakia where he becomes a professor at the Prague University. He marries Irina Novotny with whom he fathers a girl, Irinita. Irina leaves him for another intellectual so he returns to Cuba in defeat.

    The third generation of protagonists are made up of their children:

    Pilar Puente - the most important of these, is Lourdes and Rufino's daughter. She's a rebel with a cause. While her mother is a right wing Cuban exile who hates anything that has to do with Castro, Pilar has a strong connection with her grandmother Celia. Celia speaks to her for most of her early life. Pilar is an artist, a free spirit and longs to go back and stay in Cuba. She remembers being torn away from her grandmother's arms when Lourdes decided to leave for the US. Feels she belongs there.

    Luz and Milagro Villaverde - Felicia's daughters - hate her mother. They side with their father and try in vain to rescue their brother Ivanito from her crazy mother who ends up trying to burn him alive.

    Ivanito is very close to her mother and even though he excels in Russian, he's trying to learn English. He goes to his grandmother's house in Santa Teresa del Mar to try to listen to American radio. He's painted like a mama's boy and the writer is ambiguous about his relationship with his Russian teacher, Sergei Mikoyan, who has to leave Cuba because of improprieties with his students.

    The techniques used by the writer are interesting. The book takes place from 1972 to 1980. The book is narrated from the third person point of view, but it switches to the first person point of view every time Pilar does the storytelling. Perhaps the writer was identifying with Pilar. I thought it was nice until Ivanito and Herminia Delgado - Felicia's closest friend - also narrate from the first person point of view. I did not understand this. The writer uses letters sent from Celia to Gustavo to fill in the gaps of the story. The most poetic words are in the letters. "I was born to live in an island" writes Celia to Gustavo. "I'm grateful that the tides rearrange the borders. At least I have the illusion of change, of possibility. To be locked within boundaries plotted by priests and politicians would be the only thing more intolerable." Celia complains of a loneliness "borne of the inability to share her joy."

    The book is an interesting study of the Cuban dynamics touching on the topics of Santeria, racism, and the Cuban revolution. The writer takes steps to present all the different points of views: Cubans in Cuba who love the revolution, Cubans in Cuba who need to be "reprogrammed" because they oppose the revolution. The poverty and decay in Cuba. It also shows the Cubans in the US - The ones who missed Cuba, like Pilar, and the ones who are radical against Castro. Lourdes has meetings on her bakery and her friends boast that they called a bomb threat to the Lincoln Center when Alicia Alonso came to perform with the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, because Ms. Alonso was a Castro supporter.

    I think the santeria and spiritualism is used as a way to stay in touch. Generations communicate in the afterlife - Jorge and Lourdes - and through space - Celia and Pilar. Ms. Garcia states that santeria is an unacknowledged and under appreciated aspect of what it means to be Cuban.

    The racism is showcased in the relationship between Herminia and Felicia. Herminia, being of African descent, is aware that Felicia is the only person who doesn't see color. She also speaks of the Little War of 1912 when many of her relatives were killed for being black.

    The book's ending is ambiguous. I think it's because Ms. Garcia is still trying to figure out where she belongs. The book also lacks sufficient freshness of insight to be consistently compelling. It left me with a sense that the questions asked were never answered.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2013

    Interesting novel

    I read this book nearly two years ago, but I still think of it from time to time. It focuses on a Cuban family that has been divided (one half has moved to America while the other remains in Cuba). The viewpoint of several different characters is shown as they take over a chapter or two. It offers an interesting philosophy and story, and I would recommend this novel to any older teen or young adult.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2003


    I got interested in this book because in my history class we were learnig about Fidel's Cuba. This book has showed me how people from Cuba feel about Cuba and what they do in Cuba.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2002

    Real Fiction

    Dreaming in Cuban is the story of a Cuban family that is divided by politics, religion, ideals, and a beautiful sea. Writer Cristina Garcia transmits the feelings of three generations of Cuban women, First of all by Celia whose consuming passion is for El Lider ¿Fidel.¿ Lourdes; she is an immigrant living in New York City, and a proud proprietor of the Yankee Doodle Bakery. Felicia; She can not stay away from man and black magic and Pilar; she is the youngest generation of these three women, she is in a never ending fight with her mother. These character are the most important ones in the story, each of them represent a different prospective of life. The novel is set between Cuba and New York. The character of Celia is a very important one, in the sense of integrity for her believes and the way she hopes for a better tomorrow. Pilar is the future. She wants to go back to her land and also see her Grandmother ¿Celia¿ before she forgets both of them. I recommend reading the book. It will help you understand the power of love.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2002

    Revolutionary Made

    Dreaming in Cuban by Christina Garcia is an intriguing look into a family torn by Fidel Castro's political hold on Cuba. Taking place in both Cuba and the United States the story explores political, geographical, religious, and generational divides among family members. Readers will meet Celia del Pino the matriarch of the family and ever loyal to Castro. Celia's daughter Lourdes living in New York staunchly opposes Castro and has little more warmth for her mother. Pilar, the artistic rebel and third generation, feels a connection to her grandmother and a life she remembers. Readers will travel with the family members dealing with insanity, religious curiosities and even attempted murder/suicide. Garcia's book is definitely worth reading as she is able to capture many of the issues Cuban families experience in this compelling novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2002

    A detectives EYE for LIT 2480

    ¿Dreaming in Cuban¿ is one of those books that are excessively fun to read. The book tells the story of three parts of one family. This family is divided by their own make-shifted beliefs of what is wrong and what isn¿t. Cristina Garcia¿s style of writing drags the reader to understand what a Cuban family feels. How it is to live in a family that are drawn by their beliefs to go forward and not look back. Three different women reacting differently to the revolution is what Garcia successfully explains. That along with how and why they chose the paths they took and the outcome to their decisions. Wonderfully written giving a unique perspective on what happened in the revolution.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2002

    Odd yet interesting story

    ¿Dreaming in Cuban,¿ a novel written by Cristina Garcia is at first glance a bit bizarre and hard to follow, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it is an excellent book. The difficulty is in trying to understand the myriad of oddball characters. For the average reader who is not from Cuba or perhaps one of the other Caribbean island countries, it would probably be difficult to understand some of the symbolism this book uses. The story is heartbreaking and sad. It captures some of the problems that families struggle through such as different political and religious beliefs and the emotional baggage we carry that interferes with the relationships we have with our family. There is no doubt that it is a sad book, but I am glad I read it and recommend it to everyone. Just remember to keep an open mind.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2002

    Dreaming in Cuban

    Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia is set in Cuba and The United States. Cristina captures and paints with words the reality of Cuba from the 30¿s to 1980. Three generations of women from the Del Pino family have very different points of view about religion and life in general. This novel is a perfect mirror reflecting many Cuban families that have been destroyed as a consequence of Fidel Castro¿s revolution.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2002

    Virtual College Lit 2480

    I read ¿Dreaming in Cuba¿ by Cristina Garcia and think it is a wonderful and interesting book. This is a novel about a Cuban family torn apart by Fidel Castro. The four female family members share clairvoyant and visionary powers; with these powers they communicate to each other. The novel is based in two different locations, New York and Cuba, with two of the women living in each place. This novel speaks of reality, as some people who live in Cuba do believe in Castro¿s ways and others like the ones that live in New York are completely against his regime. This novel is one that is not to be missed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2002

    LIT 2480 VCollege student

    I really enjoyed reading this book. The characters memories of their lives in Cuba, New York, and Miami were very touching. Everything from religion to politics. Cristina Garcia has written a very touching novel. I highly recommend it to everyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2002

    Dreaming in Cuban

    Cristina Garcia¿s ¿Dreaming in Cuban¿ narrates the lives of three generations of Cuban women, and the personal and political differences they experienced. It is set between Cuba, Miami and New York. The novel dwells into the themes of family, history, culture, religion, insanity and self-identity. The feelings of connection and misunderstanding between the American and the Cuban sides of the family are vividly portrayed through the voices and narratives of several family members. Each of them has a richly drawn history and strong character psychology. The story develops with ease, but makes diverse transitions in time, going from the discursive moment back to the past through Celia¿s letters, attempting to find coherence in a family segmented by Castro¿s revolution.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2001

    Interesting Book!!!!

    Ms. Cristina Garcia is the author of the book ¿Dreaming in Cuba.¿ Characters of this novel have different gods, believe in their religions, and the force in the universe. The sea plays a big role in Celia¿s life. In many occasions, she goes at the seaside and admires the waves. She hopes that the man she loves, Gustavo would be back home. Felicia, Celia¿s daughter believes in Santeria and Chango. She has faith in Vodou too. In my view, she uses these gods for protection and to get revenge. She loses Ernesto Brito, one of her husbands a couple days after their marriage. She knows that Graciela Moreira is a participant of her husband¿s death. She invites her to come to her beauty salon for a relaxer application and burns her scalp with lye. After this incident, she leaves her workplace. She devotes to her gods. Unfortunately, she passes away during a vodou ceremony. The santero, The balalawos, chango and other inanimate spirits are false gods. Instead of giving her a happy and peaceful life, her gods take away her existence. The characters have great relationship with their family. Celia loves her children and grandchildren. Her love is so deep for Pilar; therefore, she could not tolerate her absence. Knowing her grandmother¿s sadness, she convinces Lourdes, her mother, to go visit her in Cuba. Family values, relationships and religions play a big role in the characters' lives.

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